Superintendent Tom Longridge says enrolment is expected to be up this year, despite earlier projections to the contrary. (Black Press File Photo)

Good news on the enrolment front for Campbell River School District

After over a decade of decreasing numbers, district seems to be starting to rebound

Superintendent of schools for the Campbell River School District, Tom Longridge, told the Board of Education at its most recent meeting that contrary to projections, it appears student enrolment is actually up this year.

“We’re still a little early to actually give solid numbers,” Longridge says, “but I can indicate that we’re definitely up in population over projections and I believe we’re also up in total numbers from last year, so we’re slowly on the upswing.”

The district had projected that they would be down 27 students this year compared to last year’s enrolment numbers, “but we know that we’ve exceeded that and believe that we’ll be higher overall,” Longridge says.

That initial projection would have continued a trend the district has been seeing for the last number of years, so to see it go the other way is a welcome sight, says Trustee Darryl Hagen.

“It’s pretty exciting when you think about it,” Hagen says. “Having dropped from 8,000 students down to 5,000 over the past, I would say 15 years, and what that means for a district – when you see that, last year, 110 students represents $1-million – it’s not about money, but it’s about how do we plan for the future and that’s why I like to see us leveling out and being able to plan for the future.”

Longridge says the majority of the increases came at the middle and secondary levels, as opposed to having more new students entering kindergarten than graduating high school.

International student numbers are in, as well. Timberline Secondary has welcomed 29 international students, 23 have registered at Carihi and one has enroled at Southgate Middle School. Four of those students have come from Brazil, four are from Spain, two are from Austria, two are from Swizerland, four are from Japan, 13 are from Taiwan, four are from China, and one are from each of South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and India.

The highest number of international students, however, have come from Germany, from which 19 students have come to the district. Longridge says he attributes that to international program coordinator Lori Kobelak’s ongoing discussions and relationships in the German education system.

“They also tend to see areas such as Campbell River favourably because they value the outdoors,” Longridge says. “There’s not a lot of spaces in Germany that are as wild and as natural as we have in Canada and particularly in locations like Campbell River, so that relationship along with what this community has to offer, as well as the reputation that our school district has built in that country has led to a steady increase in international students from Germany.”

And the more international students who come to town, the better it is for everyone, Longridge says.

“It brings a lot of strength and diversity to our system,” Longridge says, adding that it’s also good for the local economy, citing an economic study that said each international student in a community brings in approximately $30,000 into the economy of a region through not only their own living expenses but also people coming to visit them while they are here.

Final enrolment numbers are expected to be presented at the next public meeting of the Board of Education, scheduled for Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the School District 72 offices on Pinecrest Road.