(Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

(Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo school district forecasts enrolment rebounding from COVID-19

Student numbers to rise for next three school years, projects district staff

COVID-19 has affected numbers of students physically attending school in 2020-21, but Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district foresees enrolment increasing the next three school years.

Pandemic protocols are still in place for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, with four SD68 schools on the health authority’s school exposures list. Students are learning at either bricks-and-mortar schools or through the district’s distance learning program, with the latter seeing increased registrants, the district previously said.

At the district Feb. 10 business committee meeting, Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer, told trustees that district budgeted for regular school enrolment of 13,898 full-time students, which doesn’t include distributed learning or alternate program students. That fell short with 13,743 actual students. In terms of total full-time students, the district projected 14,467 students with the actual number 14,308.

For 2021-22, the district forecasts 14,360 students, with 14,845 for 2022-23 and 15,015 for 2023-24.

Preliminary enrolment will be the basis for planning the next budget, Walsh said.

Student numbers are based on information provided to consultant Baragar Systems, along with input from principals and historical trends, said Walsh, who added that the school district is conservative with its estimates.

At the meeting, Jessica Stanley, trustee and board vice-chairperson, said she was skeptical about amount of students returning to bricks-and-mortar schools considering delays in vaccine distribution. She wondered how flexible the district can be given it is planning in advance.

“If April rolls around, or even as this budget process rolls around and it becomes increasingly apparent that we’re not going to meet those numbers, what we can do is we can re-adjust, for our own internal purposes, our enrolment projections,” said Walsh. “What that would result in is less staffing going to schools … If we all of a sudden got to June or July and something happens that kids are starting to leave again, then we need to look through what our collective agreement obligations are.”

Walsh said the school district would likely approach the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, hopefully moving teachers from “bricks-and-mortar” to the distance education program without laying teachers off.

“The conservative enrolment, along with making sure that our eyes are on the kids that are actually going to be in the seats as we go through the budget process, I think is going to solve a lot of that. Not all of that though,” said Walsh. “If we lose 1,000 kids, there needs to be layoffs at some point. Given what … medical professionals are telling us, we don’t want to be overly pessimistic and impact a whole bunch of school cultures. We don’t want to remove teachers if we don’t absolutely have to.”

READ ALSO: NDSS sees another COVID-19 case

RELATED: COVID-19 affects SD68 enrolment, funding



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

EducationNanaimo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The current boat used by Rugged Coast Research Society for remote shoreline cleanup operations will be replaced by a landing craft that will allow society members to haul four times as much marine garbage per trip from Vancouver Island’s remote shorelines. (Agathe Bernard photo/Rugged Coast Research Society)
Nanaimo-based research group needs bigger boat for coastal cleanups

Rugged Coast Research Society raising cash for landing craft to pull trash from remote shorelines

Pet owners are leaving more dog waste than ever before on Nanaimo’s paths and trails, says letter writer. (Stock photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Dog owners need to pick up after their pets

Letter writer says he’s ‘disgusted’ by dog walkers not picking up their dog waste

The Nanaimo African Heritage Society is capping its month of Black History Month celebrations with a virtual gala on Sunday, Feb. 28. (News Bulletin photo)
Nanaimo African Heritage Society presents virtual Black History Month gala

Event to feature a variety of speakers and performers

(Black Press file)
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools reports COVID-19 exposure at Cedar Elementary

School district says Island Health has completed contact tracing

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic oportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Vancouver Island teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Most Read