The Kamloops-Thompson School District is dealing with a jump in special needs students this year by hiring seven new teacher assistants at a cost of $247,000.
The annual official enrolment count at the end of September revealed some good news — the total decline for the year is 148 full-time equivalent students, which is better than the projected drop of 227.25.
It also revealed a challenge with 32 additional Level 2 special needs students.
“It is quite a few, but it’s not unprecedented,” said school board chairwoman Denise Harper.
She said the numbers may actually be evidence of progress within the education system and in parent awareness.
“I think parents — and we all — are more on the ball at recognizing needs in children and trying to address them sooner,” said Harper. “And I think we’re learning to identify things that perhaps we may not have identified in earlier years.”
Level 2 special includes moderate to profound intellectual disability, physical disability or chronic health impairment, visual impairment, deaf or hard of hearing, and autism spectrum disorder.
The province will pay for the additional cost of hiring certified education assistants, said Kelvin Stretch, district secretary treasurer.
According to the B.C. government’s education website, the “basic allocation” is a standard amount provided per student and includes funds to support those with learning disabilities or mild intellectual disabilities, needing moderate behaviour supports and gifted students.