Laurel McEachnie

Laurel McEachnie

Enrolment numbers watched closely in Vernon

The projection for 2016/17 is 8,000 students but firm figures won’t be known until about Sept. 30

It’s a numbers game in local schools.

With kids heading back to class Tuesday, administrators will try to determine how many students there are in Cherryville, Coldstream, Lumby and Vernon.

“We’re expecting to maintain our enrolment and maybe it will be up slightly,” said Joe Rogers, Vernon School District superintendent.

The projection for 2016/17 is 8,000 students but firm figures won’t be known until about Sept. 30.

Last year, there were an extra 137 students, largely as families returned to the North Okanagan because of Alberta’s weak economy.

And there are reports of new families coming into the area over the summer.

“Quite a few people in Vancouver have taken  advantage of the red hot market there, cashed in and moved to the Okanagan,” said Rogers.

On top of this, some refugee families have relocated to Vernon and they have school-aged children.

Rogers will meet with elementary school principals Thursday and secondary school principals Friday to look at enrolment numbers and determine if extra divisions are needed in schools.

Precise numbers are required because funding from the Ministry of Education is based on enrolment.

It’s also anticipated there will be about 200 international students in area schools, including from Germany, Mexico and Brazil.

Maintenance staff have spent the summer getting ready for all of the students, by ensuring  schools are clean.

“Our maintenance staff have done a great job,” said Rogers, adding that major capital projects have also proceeded.

“There’s a full geo-thermal system at Okanagan Landing Elementary and while they were there, staff did all of the painting.”

Teachers are also preparing for a new curriculum mandated by the Ministry of Education for kindergarten to Grade 9 (this is a pilot year for Grades 10 to 12).

Students will get hands-on experience in collaboration, critical thinking and communications. The goal is to help students learn by exploring their interests and passions.

With bells ready to ring Tuesday, Rogers is looking forward to another school year in the district.

“Stand in the school yard on the first day and there’s a real energy because the students get to see their friends,” he said.

“They reconnect and in the end, it (school) is all about relationships.”