The Abbotsford School District saw an increase of about 350 students year over year, but historically over-capacity schools saw looser space issues.  File photo

The Abbotsford School District saw an increase of about 350 students year over year, but historically over-capacity schools saw looser space issues. File photo

Abbotsford schools’ uneven enrolment issues levelling

Preliminary enrolment data show increase at under-capacity schools, decrease at over-capacity schools

Issues of disproportionate enrolment between east and west schools in Abbotsford is beginning to level out, the school board heard recently.

Trustees got a look at the preliminary enrolment count at Abbotsford schools during last week’s meeting, including a basic overview and a more detailed look at each school. On the whole, Abbotsford School District saw a rise in funded students of nearly 1.8 per cent to just shy of 19,900.

That’s about 170 students more than had been budgeted and about 350 students more than in 2017-18, according to the report.

Numbers in the report are not finalized and do not fully reflect what will be put forward to the Ministry of Education for funding, secretary treasurer Ray Velestuk said.

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“Our trending increase in enrolment is continuing,” he said, adding more information will come when the report is finalized.

But Velestuk did note that some schools that had been overburdened with out-of-catchment students were starting to see a decrease, like William A. Fraser Middle School, which dropped 30 students year over year to 643 – a drop, also, of nearly 40 students from the previously budgeted headcount.

Altogether, middle schools were down around 88 students from budget, though up 44 year over year. Velestuk also pointed to Abbotsford Middle School, which is currently pegged at 38 students under budget, but which also saw a four-student increase over 2017-18.

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“So those are the things that we’ve kind of wanted to see – some getting back to closer to capacity as opposed to significantly-over-capacity schools,” Velestuk said.

And while those schools see some declines, or at least more tempered increases, schools in west Abbotsford are starting to see some increased enrolment.

“It’s great to note 93 more students at (Eugene Reimer Middle) and, while not anywhere near as big an increase, an increase at Rick Hansen (Secondary, of 16 students) as well. I’m hoping that that’s a result of the board’s work and providing some change in programming and so on,” trustee Stan Petersen said.

“It’s good to see … they’re becoming more and more viable schools over the last number of years.”

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Velestuk said the school district has felt the changes as classes started in September.

“We did not have space challenges this fall like we had last fall. We still have one portable in reserve that we think is potentially going to (be put to use),” Velestuk said. “There are a number of sites that potentially could need that.”

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

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