Student enrollment numbers at many schools districts throughout central Alberta are on the rise.
Official numbers at Red Deer Public Schools show a current student population of 11,121 for the 2018-2019 schoolyear, up 247 students from a year ago.
Superintendent Stu Henry says that’s great news.
“To me, it’s a good sign for our city,” he explains. “In light of how the economy has gone the last few years, you really wonder where the city is at. You know, we’ve heard stories of hundreds and hundreds of houses on the market, so we just wondered what that might mean for our schools but it seems like we have lots of kids coming in, so I see that as a really healthy thing for our city.”
Henry says the rising enrollment means more provincial funding in addition to other benefits as well.
“We were lucky this year in that the increase in enrollment really was spread-out across the city,” says Henry. “I think out of our 23 schools, there were only four schools that went down a little bit, so because it was spread-out so evenly, it’s not a tremendously difficult thing to deal with. Besides, it’s a good problem anyway which means we got to hire a few more staff members here and there.”
Officials with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools also report a student enrollment increase this year.
The number they will submit to Alberta Education will be 10,310 students, up 225 students from last year or an increase of 2.24 per cent.
The division employs 545 teachers, 576 support staff and 156 substitute teachers.
This year, St. Patrick’s Community School which offers a year-round program is undergoing a modernization to expand and provide new learning spaces for students.
“We continue to see an enrollment increase each year and we are happy to see families choosing Catholic education,” said Superintendent Paul Mason, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, in a press release.
Elsewhere, in the Chinook’s Edge School Division No. 73 out of Innisfail, Superintendent Kurt Sacher says their enrollment numbers check-in at 11,084, up over 20 students from last year.
He says it’s a number they projected for this year.
“It’s good news because the trend in rural areas is for a gradual reduction in student numbers and we’ve either held our own or increased over the last eight years and so we’re quite pleased with that,” states Sacher. “There’s still some growth in places like Sylvan Lake, Penhold and Carstairs and so all of that’s healthy but the biggest thing is that the numbers came in as we projected, so we planned appropriately.”
In Ponoka-based Wolf Creek Public Schools, there are 7,488 students registered this year, an increase of 73 students over 2017-18.
In the Wild Rose School Division based in Rocky Mountain House, Superintendent Brad Volkman says their enrollment for 2018-2019 comes in at 4,743 students.
Volkman says that’s 53 more students than last year and close to what was projected for this year.
Finally at Stettler-based Clearview Public Schools, officials report enrollment of 2,371 students in 2018-2019, 11 higher than budgeted and 30 more students than last year.
Other highlights include a Kindergarten enrolment increase of 34 students or 20 per cent over last year and seven per cent or 12-student increase at Hutterite Colony Schools from the year prior.
The largest increase in the district however was at Big Valley School where they saw a 17 per cent or 14-students increase over 2017-2018.
The largest decrease in Clearview Public Schools was seen at Coronation School where they lost 19 students or 7 per cent of their student population from last year.
"We are very pleased that once again parents and students continue to choose Clearview Public Schools, with 30 more students than last year and a 1.3% increase,” says Peter Barron, Superintendent, in a press release. “The enrolments for 2018-19 are very encouraging. While some schools did decrease, in general the enrolments went up for many of our schools, showing the trust parents have for the first-choice education we provide. In particular, we are proud of our early learning program which showed a 20% increase at 34 students."
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