Bonnie Roller Routley, secretary-treasurer for the Okanagan Skaha School District, goes over some of the figures in their final 2016-17 budget document. (Steve Kidd/Western News)

SD 67 sees stagnant student growth

The Okanagan Skaha School District saw just nine more students than last year

The Okanagan-Skaha School District has gained just nine students between this year and last, but officials say they expected stagnant growth this year.

School District 67’s school board is set to hear Monday evening the gain came entirely from Penticton schools, which saw a 26-student bump this year, while the remaining areas saw decreases.

Summerland has 11 fewer students than last year, while Naramata, Kaleden and West Bench combined decreased by six students.

Related: Budget trending positive for school district

“That’s what our projection for the last few years, is that our enrolment increase would stay fairly flat,” Supt. Wendy Hyer said. “So it’s not unexpected.”

Elementary schools were in the plus as a whole (10 extra students), as were middle schools (+4), whereas secondary schools saw a net loss of five students.

In all, the district is overseeing 5,617 students, including 2,071 in secondary schools, 1,234 in middle schools and 2,312 in elementary schools.

“The number of women who are of the age group of having children hasn’t really seen much growth,” Hyer said.

Related: B.C. school districts fight to find space, hire teachers

Enrolment has been an area of interest, with a Supreme Court of Canada decision earlier this year that ruled B.C. teachers were able to collectively bargain class sizes.

That meant a flood of funding from the provincial government for more teachers for this school year, as districts attempted to staff enough classrooms to meet the requirements.

Though SD67 had claimed few difficulties in filling the teacher gap, numerous districts around the province reported challenges finding enough teachers to fill their classrooms.

Related: Little struggle hiring influx of teachers for South Okanagan

With that said, with new stats out on class sizes, the district will have some shuffling to do — for example, Penticton Secondary School lost 24 students, while Princess Margaret Secondary gained 19.

“You have to adjust and accommodate the enrolment there. So we try and project ahead of time, and we work really hard to be conservative in the spring with enrolments,” she said.

“We can’t afford to put a teacher, for instance, at Pen High and then have no students show up.”

While enrolment has seen stagnant growth for a number of years the district has reported a significant boost to its international tuition last year.

Related: International tuition far exceeds SD67 budget


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

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