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Early data shows decreased enrolment at Sea to Sky schools

About 50 fewer students overall at the start of SD48’s year; numbers may ‘fluctuate,’ says assistant superintendent.

Enrolment in School District 48 (SD48) across the Sea to Sky Corridor has had a slight decrease compared with last year, according to some preliminary numbers.

On Sept. 13, the assistant superintendent of SD48, Paul Lorette, updated the school board on the figures during the first public board meeting of the 2023-2024 school year.

“We're very close to our projections. This is evidence that we … may be slowing down our growth, which we knew was coming so this is not unexpected,” said Lorette. “This number could fluctuate again when we have our final numbers at the end of the month.”

In the opening week of enrolment for the school year, there were 5,205 students overall. Last year’s enrolment was tallied at 5,262 in March 2023, equating to 57 fewer students to start this school year.

In March 2023, the school board predicted a drop in enrolment, but so far it is not as large as anticipated. However, Lorette reiterated several times that the enrolment numbers may undulate during the start of the school year.

Compared with the projection and separated by grades, Kindergarten to Grade 6 showed an increase of 41 students; Grades 7 to 9 showed a decrease with 19 fewer students, and Grades 10 to 12 almost held completely steady with only an additional three students. 

SD48 superintendent, Chris Nicholson, also delivered the annual look ahead to the school year presentation. He shared that there still seems to be some correlation between COVID-19 and learning.

“We know that there have been some post-COVID learning impacts,” he said. “While we don't want to draw causal relationships between COVID and outcomes, we still recognize that they played a factor in how our kids are doing.”

A slide shared in the presentation noted that foundational skills assessments in literacy and numeracy were lower in Grades 4 and 7 in the 2022-2023 school year compared to the year before. Additionally, Nicholson reported that fewer B.C. youth view their mental health as positive compared with the national average, 58% versus 62%.

With that in mind, Nicholson explained there will be a focus on literacy and numeracy and student mental health and well-being in the educational services this year.

Other education services listed in the presentation included implementing the new reporting order for all students from the province and the Indigenous-focused grad requirement, plus a French Immersion review.

The school board will continue with hybrid public board meetings along with policy development in anti-racism, accessibility and environmental sustainability.

“And of course, our board is engaged with ongoing shared facilities discussion with the District of Squamish,” said Nicholson.

View the Sept. 13 school board meeting on SD48’s YouTube channel.

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