About 65 more students are attending schools in the Kootenay-Columbia district this year than last.
Superintendent Katherine Shearer says the district has 4,165 students attending schools in Castlegar, Trail, Rossland, Warfield, and Fruitvale, up from 4,100 last year and 4,075 the year before.
“We’ve been experiencing steady growth year over year,” Shearer said.
The greatest growth has been seen in Castlegar elementary schools, especially Twin Rivers and Robson, which presents some challenges.
The district moved a portable classroom from Glenmerry Elementary to Twin Rivers in anticipation of higher enrolment, but has not had to use it.
“We did not have to use it this year, but it is there as we know that part of the district is experiencing enrolment pressure,” Shearer said, adding the school did see a larger number of students, but didn’t need an entire extra classroom to manage it.
The key date for funding purposes is Sept. 30, which is when enrolment figures are reported to the provincial government.
Shearer said there is “always a little bit of flux” until that date, especially because secondary students are still finalizing timetables, but she believes they are getting close to stable numbers.
The growth follows a period of perpetual declining enrolment that saw many schools closed throughout the district from the 1990s through the 2000s.
However, the district hopes the continuing upswing will help them make the case to the Ministry of Education for a new school or two in the Castlegar area.
The district’s capital plan calls for a new high school and repurposing Stanley Humphries Secondary as a middle school, or adding another elementary school.
Shearer said that would address both enrolment growth and aging infrastructure. However, she added that it is a long process to get a new school built.
A new Glenmerry Elementary is currently under construction. The $39-million facility, expected to be ready next spring, will have a capacity of 435 students, compared to 270 for the existing school.
Shearer said the project remains on track.
“With supply chain and workforce issues, potential things could crop up but right now things are moving along as scheduled,” she said. “We’re pretty excited.”