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Education

Powell River Board of Education meeting: More pupils in area

“We have more students than expected. It’s a good problem to have, to have growth instead of decline.” ~ Superintendent of schools Dr. Jay Yule

School District 47’s student enrollment has received a significant influx this year.

At the September 14 Powell River Board of Education meeting, superintendent of schools Dr. Jay Yule provided a summary of the first week of school, including enrollment statistics.

“We’re up almost a couple of hundred students and numbers are still trickling in,” said Yule. “We have more students than expected. It’s a good problem to have, to have growth instead of decline.

“It’s caused a bit of pressure at some of our schools in terms of being full. Westview and Edgehill [elementary schools] are full.”

Yule said there is capacity at Henderson Elementary School to accommodate more students so those moving into city limits will be able to access Henderson.

Yule said there is a deadline of March 31 to try and accommodate students in their catchment.

According to Yule, there are a number of new teachers in School District 47. There are also some new programs in place around early learning, so it has been an exciting start to the year, according to Yule.

“We have a lot of new initiatives, we have the good fortune of having good fiscal responsibility, we’ve been able to add some coordinators with student learning, technology and mental health fitness,” said Yule. “We are feeling really good about moving forward.”

Trustee Rob Hill said regarding overflow at Westview and Edgehill, families are moving to town. He wondered if children in those catchment areas that were part of the overflow were being put on lists.

Yule said the school district has waiting lists, and if a spot comes open, people on the list are called. He added that most people normally want to stay in the school where their children are placed.

Hill asked about busing, and whether it was being provided for students who have to go to schools outside their residential area. Yule said if a bus route happens to be going by the students’ homes, then they can ride, and there is also the prospect of travel assistance if there is a hardship issue.

Hill asked if schools can go over capacity. Yule said it was dependent on the room, and also on the stipulated class size limits.

“The nominal capacity is the number of rooms and the class size,” said Yule. “Right now, we physically don’t have room.”

During the question period at the end of the meeting, the Peak asked about specific student enrollment numbers. Yule said enrollment was a bit of a moving target and the school district was waiting for some more numbers, but it looks like about 250 new students. About 200 new students are enrolled in the Partners in Education program, said Yule, which is part of the district’s provincial online learning school initiative. He said it is expected to grow.

In terms of the students attending local schools, Yule said there was a fairly even distribution of students throughout the various grades.

In terms of new teachers in the district, the number is 31, but not all are full time employees, according to Yule.

Total enrollment is around 3,350 students, said Yule, but numbers will be more accurate at the end of the month.

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