Enrolment up sharply in Abbotsford

Hundreds more students than projected will result in $1.7 million of extra funding for school district.

Schools on the east side of Abbotsford have seen the bulk of enrolment increases in the district.



Click the icons on the map above to see enrolment details about individual schools.

An unexpected jump in enrolment at the Abbotsford school district has resulted in full classrooms and $1.7 million in extra funding from the province.

Administrators had expressed surprise in September when a preliminary headcount seemed to show an increase in enrolment of around 20 students, defying a projected 48-student decrease in enrolment heading into the 2015-16 school year.

The final audited headcount for this year showed an even steeper increase, with enrolment rising by 190 students, from 18,763 to 19,563 students in local schools, including those taking online courses through the Abbotsford Virtual School.

The numbers mean Abbotsford has bucked a recent B.C. trend that had seen school enrolment decrease by 27,000 students across the province over the previous five years.

In the short-term, the increase is good for the district and has allowed it to hire more teachers and support staff.

The main challenge now facing the district is to find out why enrolment has jumped and whether it is a one-off occurrence or a sign of things to come.

Secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk said two factors may be at play, both revolving around a generally increasing population. First, new students could be coming from either other Lower Mainland cities to Abbotsford’s west as families move eastward in the Fraser Valley.

Second, Velestuk said the district has heard of students coming from Alberta as its struggling economy sheds jobs.

Future increases will make school building and upgrades, which the district has already included in its capital plan to be sent to the ministry of education, even more of a priority.

The Abbotsford school district’s 2015-16 capital plan approved earlier this month asked for more than $50-million of upgrades and new schools over the next five years. The prioritized plan is then sent to the provincial government with the hope that funding will materialize.

The plan includes a new Eagle Mountain elementary school, new middle and secondary schools in the eastern part of the city, and upgrades to Yale and W.J. Mouat secondary schools.

The district’s enrolment numbers show schools in the Sumas Mountain area of Abbotsford are gaining students while many of those in the northern and western parts of the urban core are seeing decreases.

Demographic changes in different areas explain some of the growth, but the principal of the school with the largest percentage increase attributes the rise in students there with a popular program.

Abbotsford middle school, which actually projected a slight decline, saw a recorded jump in enrolment from 537 to 598 students.

Principal Ian Levings attributed the jump to the school’s unique International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Program. The program features what Levings described as “inquiry-based learning” and is similar to the new curriculum that students around the province will start experiencing next year.

“Parents are really excited,” Levings said. Dozens of students are now on a waitlist for coming years.

The jump in students has created some logistical challenges, Levings said, as teachers were shuffled in order to utilize every single classroom in the building.

“It’s a good problem to have,” he said.

Among elementary schools, Harry Sayers saw the largest increase in enrolment, with 27 more students enrolled.

In addition to Abbotsford middle, Clayburn and Chief Dan George middle schools also saw enrolment jump, by 32 and 27 students, respectively. The high school with the largest increase was Abbotsford senior, which saw enrolment rise by 78.62 student equivalents.

The elementary school with the largest enrolment decrease was Terry Fox elementary, where the number of students dropped from 262 to 240.

And the increase at Harry Sayers may be good news for nearby Eugene Reimer middle school and Rick Hansen secondary school. With a drop of 34 students, Eugene Reimer saw the biggest enrolment decrease among middle schools, while Rick Hansen saw the biggest drop among secondary schools, with 53 fewer students signed up. Velestuk said the west side of the city continues to see population increases, although many students from that area of the city attend schools of choice.

Although numbers for the rest of British Columbia are still coming in, the increase in enrolment would make Abbotsford one of just a few districts where more students are attending school, according to a ministry of education spokesperson.

Just Posted

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Fraser Valley developer offering to build barn owl nesting boxes for free

Gore Brothers says anyone with a suitable building can help the threatened raptor

Langley’s oldest and last strip bar shuts its doors

The Alder Inn, in operation since 1957, has reportedly been purchased

Fraser Valley Bandits winless streak hits eight

CEBL club still looking for first-ever franchise victory

Abbotsford posts $29 million cash surplus in 2018

Reserves continue to grow, but finance chief warns more will be needed

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Dinosaur statues from defunct Dinotown theme park stolen in Chilliwack

The dinosaur figures once graced the theme park but were destined for Chilliwack fundraiser

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

Update: Show of support after pride flag was taken down by Township of Langley

Township statement said flag was removed due to “confusion” about whether it was on private property

Most Read