(File Photo)

(File Photo)

Student enrolment stabilizes in Coast Mountain School District

But graduating students still outnumber those starting school

Coast Mountains School District enrolment crept up this year compared to 2017, reversing what had been a years-long decline.

Figures as of the end of September indicate enrolment is now 4,225, a modest increase over the 4,197 students as of September 2017 and the 4,211 students who were enroled as of September 2016.

This September’s figures fall within projections set out by the school district.

Enrolment had been dropping for years throughout the district which takes in Kitimat, Terrace, the Hazeltons and Stewart, a sign of a declining economy and families having fewer children.

There were 4,211 students registered in 2016, 4,385 in 2015, 4,674 in 2014 and 4,882 in 2013.

At one time, even a decade ago, the enrolment total was twice what it has been in the past several years.

But while the number is up however slightly over last year, there are still more students graduating than entering the system, said CMSD human resources director Cam MacKay.

This year’s Grade 12 student total is 412 compared to the 315 kindergarten students who are registered.

MacKay did note that while the number of graduating students is higher compared to those entering, Grade 12 numbers are a bit skewed because grad rates are higher in the past three years than first anticipated.

The district has also experienced more students in Grade 11 and 12 coming here from both public and private schools in other northern school districts who have lost teachers moving to jobs down south with the result being a reduction in course offerings.

“Some families have either moved or are sending their older children — Grade 11-12 — to live with family in our district to complete their Grade 12 and have more options on a face to face basis with teachers,” he said.

Overall the district is predicting enrolment to hover between 3,950 and 4,100 students for the next several years.

In the upper grades, numbers are starting to stabilize this year with 369 students in Grade 8, 362 in Grade 9, 366 in Grade 10 and 379 in Grade 11.

The Grade 7 to Grade 9 Skeena Middle School in Terrace continues to have the highest enrolment of all schools — 567 students this year compared to 561 last year.

MacKay said it is still a bit too early to predict enrolment increase impacts arising from the LNG Canada facility now announced for Kitimat.

“LNG personnel indicated we would see an increase in time — four to six years — from the operations side of the project with possible spinoffs that may also be a modest increase,” he said.

“On the whole we are not expecting it to be unmanageable space-wise.”

Of a more immediate concern to the school district is teacher recruitment, a challenge that began two years ago when the provincial government increased education budgets in every school district to create more teaching positions.

That was the result of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling which reversed cuts brought in more than a decade ago which increased both class sizes and the number of special needs students in classrooms.

There aren’t enough teachers to fill the new positions and that’s pitted northern districts against southern ones.

“The issue across the province at this time and particularly in the north is the lack of teachers currently available,” said MacKay.

The district did manage to fill many vacant positions this fall and is now looking for a full-time French Immersion teacher for Skeena Middle School and is looking to bolster its on-call substitute teacher pool.

“The recent increase in housing and rent costs in Kitimat and Terrace is not helping with recruitment,” MacKay added.

End of September enrolment figures are crucial for the school district because they’re used by the provincial government to set district budgets based on a dollar amount per student.

In Kitimat Nechako Elementary has 218 students this year compared to 222 last year while Kildala Elementary has 225 students this year compared to 216 in 20017. Kitimat City High’s enrolment is now 60 and was 47 in 2017. Mount Elizabeth Middle/Secondary School has 439 students this year and had 426 last year.

BC educationCMSDcoast moutain school districtkitimat kitamaat

Just Posted

Kitimat’s Water Quality Advisory, which has been in place for just over a week, has been lifted. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory in Kitimat lifted

The district has been under a Water Quality Advisory since June 2

On June 16 at 6 p.m., the Kitimat Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a public presentation and discussion with Happipad, a social enterprise, to talk about solutions for affordable housing Kitimat. (Happipad photo)
Affordable housing to be focus of Kitimat Chamber of Commerce meeting

Figures indicate the average Kitimat household needs to make more than $92,000 a year

(District of Kitimat logo)
Hirsch Creek Bridge restricted to single lane traffic

The district is restricting the bridge traffic to legal highway loads only

Artist’s illustration of the proposed Kitimat LNG facility at Bish Cove near Kitimat. (Kitimat LNG illustration)
Haisla Nation surprised by Woodside pull out from Kitimat LNG project

Haisla Nation council states its main focus is now on developing the Haisla-led Cedar LNG project

(Northern Health logo)
Pop-up vaccine clinic tomorrow at the Save-on-Foods parking lot in Kitimat

The clinic will be this Friday, June 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read