The North Vancouver school district has started the school year with a significant spike in enrolment.
This year, the school district has had the equivalent of 440 more full-time students enrol than expected.
That’s about the number of students in an entire elementary school.
The bump in enrolment includes a high number of new registrations in grades 10 to 12, as well as a return of out-of-district students, home schooled students and students who attended the Tsleil-Waututh Nation school last year, according to North Vancouver schools superintendent Mark Pearmain.
Overall, enrolment in the North Vancouver school district is 15,358 students this year, not including international students.
Enrolment of both English Language Learner students and Indigenous students is up over the numbers expected.
Of the 154 students who were part of an online learning program last year, 93 per cent of them have returned to the classroom this year, said Pearmain.
There was a similar return to school among students who were part of the hospital homebound program last year, said Pearmain, with 37 of 43 students returning to the regular classroom.
Enrolment among fee-paying international students is also back up. The school district originally projected 375 students, but so far has 531 students registered this year. Whether all of those students show up will depend on whether there are enough homestay families, as well as the course of the pandemic and associated restrictions. But Pearmain said it’s good news that the program is recovering. “It’s very nice to see how our program is coming back.”
In West Vancouver, enrolment was down slightly from last year, with 6,772 students, not including international students.
But since many students take extra courses, which the Ministry of Education includes in its calculations, they account for the equivalent of 6,950 “full-time” students, said associate superintendent Sean Nosek – a number similar to last year.
There were additionally 411 fee-paying international students this year in West Vancouver, an increase from the 309 students last year.
That brings the total number of students in the district to 7,183 this year.
Ecole Pauline Johnson, a French Immersion school, and Westcot Elementary continue to be the largest elementary schools in the district, with enrolments of over 400 students, although there are several others - like West Bay - close to that enrolment. The smallest schools are Lions Bay and Eagle Harbour.
Sentinel Secondary has the largest high school enrolment with 1130 students, followed closely by West Vancouver Secondary with 1026 students, while Rockridge Secondary has 810 students.
French Immersion continues to be popular with over 1,000 students registered, including over 700 at elementary and over 300 in high school, said Nosek.
This year there are 1,269 English Language Learner students in West Vancouver and over 700 special needs students. The largest numbers of special needs students are those with learning disabilities, making up over half of the total, followed by students with autism spectrum disorder.
Numbers of special education students have been steadily rising in the past four years, said Nosek – a trend also observed in other school districts.
There are also over 100 Indigenous students registered in West Vancouver and 18 students in the school district’s hospital homebound program.
Enrolments in all school districts are tallied at the end of September and used by the Ministry of Education to calculate how much funding they will receive. This year, school districts receive $7,885 for each full-time student. School districts also receive extra funding to provide supports for some students.