Arithmetic is a critical subject for the Vernon School District.
Administrators are still busy counting students’ heads almost two weeks after classes resumed for a new season.
“We are down a bit in elementary but up a bit in secondary,” said Bev Rundell, superintendent.
It was projected total enrolment in Vernon, Coldstream, Lumby and Cherryville would be about 8,330. But that figure is down about 148 students, with most of that coming from alternate education and online learning.
In terms of kindergarten, there are 518 students compared to the projected 530.
There is a concern that if fewer kindergarten children becomes a trend, that could ultimately lead to fewer students in the system leading up to Grade 12.
“It could reflect what happens in the years to come,” said Rundell.
The largest individual decrease in enrolment has been at Lavington Elementary, where 170 students were projected but only 143 showed up. There are eight kindergarten students.
“It’s really hard to say if families are not having more children or families are leaving the area,” said Rundell.
Enrolment at most other schools remains stable, including Cherryville Elementary, where the forecast of 59 students was fairly accurate.
“One school may be down two students and one school may be up three students,” said Rundell.
“It can be a result of a family moving within the district or a few families coming into the district.”
It’s not anticipated that the overall decrease in students will have a negative impact on the district’s finances because the provincial government continues to have declining enrolment protection in place.
“We think the money we have is the money we have,” said Rundell.
However, Rundell admits that financial pressures continue to exist for the district.
“There are increased costs like employee benefits and utilities. It will be the end of September before we know where we’re at,” she said.