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School numbers keep getting smaller

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Squamish school enrolment is on the decline again for the 2005/2006 school year. The school district is projecting a decline of 140 students for Sept. 2005 - about three per cent less than Sept. 2004. The trend is somewhat mysterious because Pemberton and Whistler, who share the same school district, have shown elevated and stable enrollment patterns, according to district secretary treasurer Nancy Edwards. "I think probably anybody you ask might give a different answer," said Edwards.

Although anecdotal speculation leads some to believe that the number of families leaving town is impacting enrollment statistics, others say that a lower birthrate is to blame, said Edwards.

"Most school districts in the province are experiencing declining enrollment," she said. "The birth rate has been declining for a few years, but Squamish in particular has felt it."

The birthrate effect has led to many more graduating students leaving schools every year than kindergarten students entering. For the 2005/2006 school year, 256 kindergarten students are enrolling in the Howe Sound district, whereas 315 grade 12 students are graduating. "The student population will continue to decline unless we have migration from other areas," said Edwards.

But the school district is remaining positive. All indicators are that Sea to Sky communities are continuing to grow, according to Edwards, and with the impact of highway upgrades, the district expects migration to positively affect future enrolment.spaillard@squamishchief.com

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