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Enrollment steady in Okanagan Similkameen schools

Unlike the neighbouring district, there are no capacity issues in SD53
The Similkameen Elementary Secondary School and others in District 53 are doing well, and enrolment is steady. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)

Enrolment in Okanagan Similkameen’s School District 53 has stayed steady over the last five years.

The most recent numbers show that since 2019, enrolment in the district’s eight schools has grown by about 90 students.

The district covers schools from Okanagan Falls to Osoyoos and over to Cawston and Keremeos.

READ MORE: Okanagan Similkameen School District holding budget meeting

The district has recently begun its budget process for 2024-25, including a public meeting on March 6 to go over the timeline and begin gathering input.

The monthly enrolment statistics as of Jan. 31 were also presented at the school board meeting on Feb. 28.

Currently, the district has about 1,400 students in the elementary schools, and 933 in secondary level schools, for a total of 2,331.

It’s a promising sign of health for the district, especially in comparison to news from the neighbouring district, SD67, which has had to begin discussions about school closures in recent months because of declining enrolment.

SD67’s enrolment stands at about 5,700 students, which is a drop of 36 per cent compared to enrolment in 2001. Penticton schools are at 82 per cent of capacity, while Summerland schools are at 69 per cent of capacity.

The Okanagan Similkameen schools aren’t facing the same concerns.

“Since student enrollment in School District No. 53 has been steady over the last number of years, we are fortunate that we are not experiencing capacity issues in our schools, and are not anticipating any issues in the near future,” said Subra Paliappa, the district’s secretary-treasurer.

Compared to five years ago, the only elementary schools in SD53 that did not see notable increases in students were Oliver Elementary, which went from 343 in January 2019 to 346 in January 2024, and Tuc-el-Nuit — which was the only school to see a drop — going from 268 in 2019 to 245 in 2024.

At the secondary level, enrolment increased slightly between the three schools in the district, going from 905 combined in 2019 to 933 combined in 2024.

Sd53’s budget process will gather public input at several stages before the final budget is completed and presented in June.

Following the first public meeting on March 6, a second meeting is planned for April and will include estimates for the budget.

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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