An unexpected rise in special education students and troubling numbers at Jewett Elementary are highlights of this year’s School District 8 enrollment update.
There are 450 special ed students in SD8 this year, which is up 37 from last year. Superintendent Christine Perkins said the district is having difficulty hiring qualified staff to accommodate what she describes as a substantial increase.
“That’s just reflective of who is moving to the district, who is coming into public education, and we have to be able to service those students,” said Perkins. “We do have a difficulty finding enough educational assistants, so we have some jobs in the district we haven’t been able to fill yet.”
Jewett Elementary meanwhile has just five students enrolled this year, down from 11 last year.
The Meadow Creek school had been among the schools SD8 considered for closure in 2016. It was ultimately spared thanks to provincial funding, but Perkins said the board will need to review the decision on Jewett and reach out to the community about its future.
Overall, SD8 enrollment dropped from 5,173 students last year to 4,954 this year. Those are head count numbers, which do not reflect course loads for individual students.
L.V. Rogers remains the most populous high school within SD8, despite a decrease of 15 students to 684 this year. Other secondary schools include Creston’s Prince Charles (476 students), Mount Sentinel (246) and Salmo Secondary (128).
Schools with elementary and secondary students include J.V. Humphries (Kindergarten to Grade 12: 216), Erickson (214), Wildflower Nelson (K-9: 198), Homelinks Creston (K-12: 143), W.E. Graham (K-10: 77) and Crawford Bay (K-12: 77).
“We’ve got definitely some movement in our high school age group, but I think we’re fairly steady for the next few years,” said Perkins. “Then what I see on the horizon is a bit of a dip so we’re going to take a look at that in the upcoming board meetings of the new year.”
Other SD8 schools include: Trafalgar Middle School (368), Creston’s Adam Robertson (K-7: 353), Brent Kennedy (226), South Nelson (219), Creston’s Erickson (213), Hume School (200), Blewett (159), Rosemont (124), Salmo Elementary (180), Winlaw (107), Creston’s Canyon Lister (104), and Redfish (88).
The distance education program meanwhile dropped from 489 students to 281.