Times are changing in the ‘business’ of education and the Nanaimo school district had better roll with the punches as it continues to lose ‘clients.’
The district reported nearly 300 less students are in classrooms this year, compared to 2011 and early projections are for 87 fewer next year.
It’s a trend that’s been happening since the early 2000s and one officials predict won’t reverse for the next several years.
But statistics indicate the overall population on mid Vancouver Island is getting older, not younger, as people continue to have fewer children.
Families of four or five children a generation ago have made way for two, often one child as parents try to meet the demands of the cost of living.
That decline in the population means less demand on the education system and consequently less demand for schools, and administrators, teachers and other staff to fill them.
Add that to the competition for students provided by private institutions, such as Aspengrove and Nanaimo Christian schools, and the public system – with its funding woes, empty classrooms and union battles – could be in for some tough times.
Hard choices – choices that have been avoided for the last 10 years – have to be made because the education system in all its forms, is still a business with a bottom line.
Under-populated schools need to be closed and students bused to the next-nearest alternative. Fewer students to teach and look after means cuts to the number of teachers, administrators and custodial workers.
In the meantime, the district needs to promote itself and its product to attract the attention of parents looking for the best educational opportunity for their children.
The numbers don’t lie.