SD67 is funding protection following grim enrolment numbers in the Penticton Summerland district.(Pixabay photo)

SD67 in funding protection over grim enrolment numbers

The district had predicted it would lose over 170 students

School District 67 is in funding protection due to grim enrolment numbers, according to superintendent Todd Manuel.

“We have seen decreased enrollment this year, and our funded enrollment count has closely matched projections made in the spring,” said Manuel.

The Full Time Equivalency (FTE) enrolment for September 2020 is 5,539 students in Penticton and Summerland schools. In contrast, the September 2019’s FTE was 5,711. That’s a decline of 172 students from last year.

“We projected 5,525 FTE for September 2020 and were able to staff accordingly based on these projections,” Manual noted.

“District staff and school administrators did a tremendous job of working together to create this projected number, and to be out by 14 FTE is remarkable work, particularly given what a different start up this year has been for school districts due to COVID-19.”

READ MORE: Enrolment decline ‘perplexing’

Manuel provided the enrolment report to trustees at the last school board meeting held on Oct. 26.

The biggest loss was seen in primary schools. Elementary student numbers have declined by 145 this year, while the district gained 45 middle school students. But as predicted, they lost 34 high school students. The district was projecting to lose around 187 students this school year.

Some elementary students have moved over to the private school Unises in Summerland, impacting enrolment a bit this year.

The anticipated decline in enrolment for this school year put SD67 in a tough financial position, which meant teacher layoffs.

An anticipated 14 to 16 teaching staff did not return to work in the fall. School Board chair James Palanio hoped the teaching positions could be cut through attrition.

More than 100 students didn’t show up for the 2019/20 year. According to funding models from the Ministry of Education, based on enrolment, this costs the school district an estimated $1.25 million.

However, this year, the district did increase numbers in Distributed Learning (distance education) including 81 currently enrolled in the kindergarten to Grade 9 full-time program (an increase of 58 students from last year), and SD67 has also added a flexible transition option for students whose families needed more time to return to regular in-class instruction this year due to COVID-19.

International student numbers have declined as well due to the pandemic. In September 2019, the district had 131 international students, while this year there are only 76.

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