The enrolment numbers are in, and School District 72 Superintendent Tom Longridge is pleasantly surprised.
“We were predicting we’d drop somewhat,” Longridge says.
Instead, Longridge told the board at last week’s public meeting of the Board of Trustees, that the student population of the district went from 5,165 last year to 5,220 now – an increase of 55 full-time enrolments (FTEs).
“It means, really, that our population is stabilizing and rising. That’s a good sign. We’re not looking at an increasing decline (as we expected),” Longridge said.
Why that is so positive for the board is because each school district receives its funding allotment from the provincial government based on its number of FTEs.
Basically, the more FTEs a district has, the more money they get from the Ministry of Education.
The increasing enrolment is, “surprisingly, across the spectrum,” Longridge said when asked if the increase was mainly in elementary schools or higher grades.
“We thought it would be less in secondary and more in elementary, but actually it was distributed.”
He said he can’t say for sure why the increase happened, but it was likely a combination of factors.
“There could be a number of reasons,” Longridge said.
“Declining oil prices in Alberta saw some families reuniting or coming back.
“There are other people moving into the community with different-aged students,” Longridge added. “We’re not sure why that all occurs.”
Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board, however, that this is not likely an “increasing trend” situation, but merely, “a bump this year.”
There is also an increase of international students this year that were not included in those enrolment figures.
“We almost doubled our international student population,” Longridge said, bringing the international population of students in School District 72 to 57 or 58 this year.
“That’s been good for the most part, but there are always transitional challenges that we have to face and deal with, and we’re trying to accommodate that.
“Overall, I think it’s good news.”