WRSD loses more than 100 students for second year in a row

By Laine Mitchell (Twitter: @Laine_Mitchell)
October 10, 2017 - 2:05pm

For a second consecutive year Wildrose School Division is dealing with a drop in student enrollment, resulting in a projected deficit for its 2017-2018 budget.

Last year the division saw a total of 4,914 students but as of September 30, 2017's total was 4,796. That's a drop of 118 kids, and stacks up to nearly 250 students erased since 2015.

Superintendent for WRSD, Brad Volkman called the numbers a surprise and points to the depressed economy for the large dip.

"We lost a number of families we didn't expect. It looks like there are a lot moving to Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and even out of province," he added the departure to other parts of the province is most likely linked to jobs being offered there. "When they are going to other cities and towns, it's got to be work related and that has to be connected to the economy."

Across the division students vanished, with Drayton Valley and Rocky Mountain House losing 61 and 59 students respectively. 

Volkman said after looking over statistics that spanned a decade WRSD has never seen such a large number of students leave in a two year period, calling it new territory for them.

The drop will also impact the divisions upcoming budget as well, with the decline in enrollment resulting in a loss of approximately $1.2 million dollars and is expected to throw the 2017-2018 school year into a deficit.

He added that the division will manage through the decrease in students by pointing to a study done for WRSD that projects the enrollment numbers to be back around the 5,000 pupils mark in five years, a benchmark that had been steady for a number of years before oil prices went bust. 

"I think it will come back. We know oil does impact our communities, and as oil recovers we will see a lot of those empty homes refill and families come back."

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