Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is anticipating increased enrolment for the 2018-19 school year. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is anticipating increased enrolment for the 2018-19 school year. (News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools projecting student enrolment increase

Superintendent Scott Saywell says 110 students enrolled last week

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is anticipating an increase in the number of students enrolled across the school district for the 2018-19 school year.

While the district won’t submit its preliminary 2018-19 student number count to the B.C. Ministry of Education until Sept. 30, it estimated that approximately 13,875 full-time equivalent students would be enrolled for the year, based on projections from February. That would be an increase of about 155 students from 2017-18.

Superintendent Scott Saywell gave an enrolment update at the district education committee meeting last Wednesday.

“Enrolment is up this year, we don’t know how much yet, because we’re still in flux, but I can tell you that we had 110 students enrol last week alone,” Saywell said at the meeting. “So we still have some students in and out of the system, which has us working at the school level to get kids into classes and into their divisions as quickly as possible … and of course the challenge is with so many students, at the last minute, coming into our system and out, it’s hard to organize the classes.”

Saywell said numbers for secondary school are a challenge in September, as students are coming in and out, but to date the district is 204 students over projection.

Declining and inclining enrolment both present challenges, according to Steve Rae, school board chairman, but increased enrolment is a better challenge to face.

“When we have declining enrolment, it’s always a challenge and we’re faced with making difficult decisions,” said Rae. “When we’re in increased enrolment, we still have challenges, but we’re faced with other kinds of decisions, like adding instead of subtracting, so for me it’s fantastic. It means our community’s healthy, it means our community’s growing and we’re adding more staff to our district and we’re becoming more vibrant.”

When asked about placing students in portables due to lack of classroom space, Rae said it is unfortunately a sign of the times.

“Our goal is to not have any,” said Rae. “Obviously that would be fantastic, but that would mean the province to give us a bunch of money for new schools and they haven’t done that yet, other than the Frank Ney addition.”

According to Dale Burgos, school district, spokesman, enrolment for the 2017-18 school year, which was shared with the ministry in June, was 14,012 FTEs.

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