School enrolment rises

It’s good news on the enrolment front for the Vernon School District, with an increase of 106 students.

It’s good news on the enrolment front for the Vernon School District, with an increase of 106 students.

“That’s according to the head count, and we are up 170 for FTE (full-time equivalent) because there are a number of students who are taking nine or 10 courses in high school, such as band or leadership, which are outside of the time table,” said district superintendent Joe Rogers.

“But because we are out of funding protection, we now get more money than we did before — with funding protection, we get the same amount no matter what our enrolment is.”

Rogers said the Ministry of Education bases funding on full-time enrolment and divides it up — last year, the district received $6,900 per student and is hoping for a significant increase this year.

But he said in looking at other districts also experiencing an increase in enrolment, there is a possibility of a drop in funding across the province.

At the kindergarten level, average class size is at 20.1 students, with seven classes at the maximum limit of 22, six at 21, 10 at 20 and one at 16.

In Grades 1 to 3, the maximum is 24; currently there are 10 classes at maximum, 28 at 23, two at 14, and the average is 21.9.

In Grades 4 to 7, there are seven classes at the maximum of 30, with an average of 26.9 across the district.

“We are in good shape at the elementary level,” said Rogers.

At the secondary level, classes are at the lowest average the district has seen in five years, with an average of 23.1, that’s because there are a number of learning assistance classes with 10 or 12 students.

“We still have lots at 30, but none over 30 in the areas where they’re not allowed to. The only ones allowed are grad transition, leadership and music or band classes.

‘“We decided as a board that we’re not going to make any cuts to the classroom, so we have some special needs classes that are smaller, some shop classes are smaller, and there is no bill 22 violation for classes over 30,” said Rogers.

“We really need to thank the trustees for keeping the money in the classroom, as they promised.

“I want to commend (director of instruction for teaching personnel) Diane Rhenisch for the organization she’s done and the principals and counsellors who at the last minute organize and fixed everything.”

Rogers added that keeping the money in the classrooms has been a key factor in the recent decsion to make cuts to busing in the district.

“We spend $2 million a year on busing, with the cuts we’ve saved $175,000, which is three teachers or five or six CEAs, so it’s a big savings,” he said.

But based on the number of concerns brought forth by parents, a committee to look at busing will be formed, made up of Rogers, two school trustees, two parents nominated by DPAC, two school administrators and transportation supervisor Robyn Stephenson.

“And we will look to see if there are ways we can creatively do this to solve the issues of busing,” said Rogers.