Nanaimo school district expects enrolment will continue to grow next year. FILE PHOTO

Number of Nanaimo students expected to increase

School district will plan budget on forecast of more than 150 new students

Nanaimo school district anticipates more students behind desks next year.

The district has seen an upward swing in enrolment for the past three years and forecasts another jump next September.

Superintendent John Blain told trustees at a business committee meeting earlier this month that the school district’s software projects an increase of around 360 students for the next two years.

District staff, however, suggest using a lower estimated enrolment of 156 more students next year for the budget. The number would put the total school population at 13,876, district projections show.

“It’s safer for us to go in conservatively and then add in as we need once we see the whites of the eyes of the students,” said Blain of the district’s forecast, noting the district doesn’t want to put in too much staffing and then have to withdraw it because then you are talking “human bodies,” and that it’s easier to put money into the system later.

RELATED: School district sees higher-than-expected revenue

School district enrolment was at 16,252 full-time equivalent students in 2000-01 before numbers declined year-over-year until 2015-16 when ministry-funded students rose from 13,155 to 13,374. It increased again to 13,427 students last school year and to 13,730 in 2017-18. The higher-than-projected number of students this school year increased the district’s revenue by $2 million.

Blain previously told the News Bulletin the increase is a result of a lot of reasons, such as an increase in kindergarteners entering the school system eight to nine years ago, immigration, population growth of Nanaimo and a shift from private school.

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