Eco-school enrolment exceeds projections

NANAIMO – School district overall, however, is experiencing declining enrolment.

The city’s only ecologically focused school exceeded Nanaimo school district’s enrolment forecasts by roughly two classroom sizes.

Preliminary registration for the current school year shows that 223 students enrolled at Departure Bay Eco-School, beating the district’s projection of 180 students by nearly 24 per cent.

Earlier this year Departure Bay became eco-focused school. A few months later, the school was recommended for closure by the district.

Graham Roberts, district  secretary-treasurer, says the district is trying to figure out the full reasons behind Departure Bay’s sudden growth.

“We haven’t had a chance to analysis the data whether they are all new in-catchment students or out-catchment students,” he said. “That level of analysis hasn’t been done yet and we won’t know until probably the end of November.”

Overall preliminary enrolment numbers for the school year show that the district has a total of 13,593 students, which was one student short of its projection and an decrease of 134 students from last year.

The district’s preliminary elementary enrolment is 7,840 students, which exceeded projections and preliminary secondary enrolment is 4,983 students, which also fell short of the district’s projections.

Other schools that experienced significant preliminary enrolment increases were McGirr Elementary, Fairview Elementary and Ladysmith Intermediate. Preliminary enrolment was down at Rutherford Elementary and Woodlands Secondary.

Private schools within the region experienced increases this year. Lantzville’s Aspengrove School had 288 students enrol while the  Nanaimo Christian School had 380 students enrol.

Dawna Ferris, admissions officer for Nanaimo Christian School, says her school has seen a steady increase in students over the past five years and that this year’s enrolment is the highest they’ve ever had.

“Three-hundred eighty students, that is a record,” she said.

Ferris says the increasing enrolment at the Nanaimo Christian School isn’t due to the district closing schools or threatening to close schools.

“We have seen increases over the past few years,” she said. “We’ve had a new principal join us a couple of years and so we have done a lot of changes in our style of delivering education and that his really attracting a lot of families.”

Elisabeth Reay, Aspengrove admissions director, says the majority of people don’t enrol their children in a private school  because of the threat of a closure.

“My experience in admission is most people who end up coming to our school have been talking to us for a quite an extended period of time,” she said. “We don’t get a lot of knee-jerk reactions decisions to enrolling their kids in our school because it is a big decision.”

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod


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