Coast Mountain enrolment on decline

The Coast Mountain school district projecting continued enrolment decline

The  Coast Mountain school district is projecting continued enrolment decline for the next three years, with most of the decline in secondary schools, chiefly Caledonia in Terrace and Mount Elizabeth in Kitimat.

The projections follow what has been the case for several years in the district – there are more students graduating than ones beginning their education.

While Terrace and Kitimat numbers are to fall, student numbers in Hazelton won’t fall by as much.

The school district’s enrolment number this year is 4,289 students. School district officials project this will drop 39 students to 4,250 total in 2016-2017, another 25 to 4,225 students in 2017-2018, and another 61 to 4,164 students in 2018-2019.

That is an overall decline of 125 students over the next three years.

“Our district, along with other districts, assumed the decline would level out several years ago,” said superintendent Katherine McIntosh.

“Many districts are dismayed and surprised to see that we are still having a bit of a decline. We are expecting that it should level out over the next five years, but that’s just a best guess.”

In contrast to the district projections, the ministry of education, meanwhile, projects an overall increase in enrolment in this school district.

It predicts 94 more students in 2016-2017, 29 fewer students in 2017-2018 and 259 more students in 2018-2019 for a total of 4,423 students.

Provincial projections are based on fertility, mortality and migration.

“BC Stats is projecting a population increase starting in 2016 due primarily to a slight increase of people moving to the area (migration), as a result of potential regional economic activity,” said a provincial official.

The school district projections do not factor in potential population changes due to commercial and industrial development but school district secretary treasurer Alanna Cameron said school district projections have been more accurate in recent years.

“In the last two years we have been closer than [the province],” Cameron said.

“Their projections haven’t changed in a long time.”