Gold Trail enrolment figures are still dropping but the good news is they haven’t dropped by much.
The figures won’t be official until Oct. 16, said Lynda Minnabarriet, S.D. 74 Secretary-Treasurer, but what they show as of Oct. 1 is 1,114.5 FTE (Full Time Equivalent). Last year there were 1,118 students enroled.
Minnabarriet said in recent years, enrolment has been down by as much as 30-50 students, so they’re happy with these numbers.
While most of the Gold Trail schools are seeing small increases in enrolment, Lillooet is heading in the other direction. Cayooosh has gone from 184 last year to 176 this year, George M. Murray has remained the same at 112, and the high school has dropped from 205 to 198.
Lytton Elementary School has fallen from 71 to 69, but the high school recovered two of those, going from 44 to 46 students.
A few new students in Cache Creek pushed the elementary school’s enrolment from 93 last year to 109 this year. Ashcroft and Clinton, which both have combined K-12 schools, have both seen slight increases as Ashcroft went from 262 last year to 269 this year, and Clinton went from 96 to 102 students.
“Any time we can see stability in our numbers is a time to celebrate,” said Carmen Ranta, board of education chair.
She said they were predicting a higher decline. They had also predicted that the decline in numbers would eventually taper off. Whether the next two years shows a stable enrolment number will be the real test. In 2002, the student population in the district was twice what it is now, she added.
Stable enrolment, added Ranta, would be good news for planning and development in the communities with schools.
Minnabarriet said enrolment had been projected for this year at 1,082. She is cautiously optimistic that the large declines in enrolment are finally coming to an end. What we’ve seen, she said, is higher numbers of older students graduating and smaller numbers of students entering Kindergarten. This year there are over 95 grade 12 students and 88 Kindergarten students. So we’re closing that gap, she said.
From a financial point of view, enrolment is a key factor in government funding, and it also indicates whether the district’s facilities are being fully utilized.
Minnabarriet says they will be finding out who these new students are in the next few years, but she suspects they are from families who are new to the communities.