Enrolment up: new students offer lesson in local, world geography

When the Kamloops-Thompson school district took a look at its enrolment figures as classes began in September, it discovered a lot of children had moved into its system. Narrowing down the study to the period between Aug. 1 and Sept. 29 — the time most enrolments occur — 678 new students were counted, said assistant superintendent Bill Hamblett.

The obvious question: from where did they come?

A review of the registrations showed 491 students arrived from other school districts, 129 students came from other provinces or countries and 58 students crossed over from independent schools. That doesn’t equate to the same total enrolment boost, however. Hamblett said about 400 students left the Kamloops-Thompson district during the summer. Looking in more detail at where students came from, Hamblett said there is no particular trend.

“I thought maybe we would get a lot from the Cariboo-Chilcotin because of all the fires,” Hamblett said.

Last year, there was an influx from Alberta that was attributed to the Fort McMurray fire and, a year earlier, there was another flow from that province due to the economic downturn. This year, the trend isn’t as obvious, Hamblett said.

“What we see is they’re coming from many places — Richmond, Vancouver, Alberta, the north, the south,” he said.

As for arrivals from independent schools, the students are also coming from a variety of non-public educational facilities, including First Nations schools and online academies. The number of fee-paying international students has also increased from last year, rising to 223 from 184 in the 2016-2017 school year. The district accepts fee-paying students from other countries through its international education program, but also has students from other countries who are members of families staying in Kamloops on visas commensurate with residency.

Hamblett said many of those are children of international students attending Thompson Rivers University. Hamblett said it’s too early to declare an enrolment increase trend. He’d like to see one more school year of data before making that prediction.

Provincially, there has been a second year of enrolment increase, with the Ministry of Education reporting an increase of 4,232 students, including adult-funded full-time equivalent students, bringing the B.C. total in the public education system to 537,589. The Kamloops-Thompson statistics, unlike provincial data, reflect actual head counts rather than full-time equivalent. Where the students are studying is also widespread through the district.

An enrolment comparison report to trustees from Hamblett showed most elementary schools saw an increase from last year, with McGowan Park (32 more students) and Dallas (31 more students) elementary schools having the biggest boost. Dufferin and Rayleigh saw the biggest enrolment decrease, with 18 and 16 fewer students, respectively.

Sun Peaks elementary recorded the largest percentage increase in students, with 93 students enrolled this year, compared to 70 students last year.

At the secondary level, Sa-Hali has the biggest boost, with 46 new students, while NorKam has an extra 28. Brocklehurst has the largest decrease at 22 fewer students, but as a middle school it only has students in grades 7 to 9. South Kamloops secondary has 22 fewer students.

Schools by the numbers: (Enrolments, with 2016 figures in brackets)

Elementary:

Abderdeen, 411 (390) A.E. Perry, 306 (298) Arthur Hatton, 292 (270) Arthur Stevenson, 321 (305) Barriere, 239 (245) Beattie, 231 (221) Bert Edwards, 259 (252) Blue River, 9 (8) Dallas, 412 (381) David Thompson, 432 (411) Dufferin, 228 (246) Haldane, 297 (279) Heffley Creek, 27 (21) Juniper Ridge, 432 (439) Kamloops School of the Arts, K-7 302 (290) Kay Bingham, 317 (290) Lloyd George, 444 (452) Logan Lake, kindergarten to Grade 4, 109 (105) Marion Schilling, 268 (257) McGowan Park, 418 (386) Pacific Way, 337 (326) Parkcrest, 348 (351) Pinantan, 44 (50) Raft River, 271 (285) Rayleigh, 198 (214) R.L. Clemitson, 321 (323) Savona, 46 (49) South Sa-Hali, 367 (362) Summit, 291 (272) Sun Peaks, 93 (70) Vavenby, 10 (7) Westmount, 324 (309) Westwold, 8 (11)