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Projected drop in School District No. 8 does not fulfill expectation

From bust to boom, the region’s school enrolment has done a role reversal.

In April School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) was facing a funding shortfall, a direct result of a drop in projected enrolment, which meant fewer teachers would be employed.

There was a projected decline of 43.125 full-time-equivalent (FTE) students for the current school year, a figure which was predominantly made up of regular Kindergarten to Grade 12 school enrolment.

But based on the Sept. 30 enrolment verification, the elementary and secondary enrolment — compared to enrolment projections — has increased overall by 91.8125 FTE.

“This information needs to be considered in the context of the decrease in Online Learning,” noted SD8 superintendent of schools Trish Smillie in her report to the board of trustees.

The enrolment for Elev8 – DESK and Elev8 - Homelinks represents 235.0625 within the total enrolment numbers, she added, comprising a decrease of 73.0625 FTE from September 2021.

In spring the decreased enrolment translated into a FTE funding loss of $362,230 based on the 2022/23 projected enrolment submission, along with a loss of funding protection revenue of $117,000.

This year there has been an overall decrease in unique students, except for English language learners, said Smillie.

For further context for enrolment the 2022-2023 school year, she explained in her report, 64 FTE learners are currently attending homeschool and are not included within the September 30 enrolment totals. By comparison, during 2021-2022 there were 92 FTE registered homeschool students within the school district.

The district is required to submit student enrolment data to the Ministry of Education as of September 30. Following this initial submission, there is a period of data verification by the Ministry of Education to account for duplicate enrolments and other anomalies.

Once that process is complete, the district receives an echo report around the third week of October that confirms enrolment.