School enrollment reaches new low

  • Oct. 5, 2012 8:00 p.m.

By Alex Rinfret-The number of students attending public schools on the islands has dipped even lower than administrators were expecting, says school district superintendent Angus Wilson. With the final numbers compiled this week, Mr. Wilson said there are about 595 full-time equivalent students attending the six public schools. Principals had expected about 602 students to show up when school started in September. The difference is not large, he said, but it is significant given the low numbers involved, and because the 602 estimate was extremely conservative. “Every year it’s down further than anybody thought,” he said. “It’s not just non-aboriginal people leaving, either. It’s everybody.” Mr. Wilson said that in the past five years, the district has lost about 100 aboriginal students. That translates into a loss of more than $100,000 of money earmarked for aboriginal educational programs. It’s very hard to make cuts in this area, he said. “We’re struggling with those issues now,” Mr. Wilson said. “They’re all good programs. These are difficult issues I’ll be discussing with the board.” The biggest drops were at Tahayghen and Sk’aadgaa Naay elementary schools. At Tahayghen, there are 87 students, pretty much the first time the enrollment ever been under 100. Sk’aadgaa Naay is still the largest school in the district, but its enrollment has dropped to 151 students. At one time it had over 200. At Port Clements elementary, there are 39 students this year, while at A.L. Mathers in Sandspit, enrollment including e-school students is just over 66 full-time equivalents. At the two high schools, the numbers held steady, with 108 attending G.M. Dawson and 142 at Queen Charlotte Secondary. Even though families on Haida Gwaii are larger on average than elsewhere in BC, the numbers continue to fall because people are moving away, Mr. Wilson said, mainly because there are better employment options in other places. “The vast majority of it is people moving away and people not moving here,” Mr. Wilson said. “Demographically speaking, Haida Gwaii is the fastest-shrinking area of the province.” As far as students are concerned, the low numbers can mean less opportunities. In the high schools particularly, Mr. Wilson said, it’s not good for enrollment to get below 80, or it becomes difficult to offer the right mix of courses. On the plus side, students on Haida Gwaii are continuing to receive an excellent quality of education, Mr. Wilson said, and the student-teacher ratio remains one of the lowest in the province. The district has also hired two counsellors. At the north end, James Blake has moved here from central-northern BC to work in a full-time position. At the south-end, a new, part-time counsellor position has been created in response to community demand. Jen Jury, a part-time teacher at Queen Charlotte Secondary, will also be working as the counsellor at QCSS, Sk’aadgaa Naay and A.L. Mathers.

Just Posted

Questions swirl around Q.C. sewage plans

Council to host town-hall meeting this Thursday about the proposed sewage treatment plan

Car crashes are up, and the icy season just arrived

Local police reminding drivers to drive sober and drive to conditions

The Drive Home: Self-bettering through belly buttering

By Chris Williams Have you ever experienced the sheer horror that comes… Continue reading

Rediscovery co-founder Thom Henley returns to Haida Gwaii with new memoir

Henley to speak in Old Massett Thursday night and in Queen Charlotte on Friday

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Charge laid against B.C. man in cat torture

Joshua Michael Lemire, 20, has been charged with one count of causing unnecessary pain/suffering to an animal.

Oxford Dictionary responds by video to Victoria boy’s bid for levidrome

William Shatner tweet garners attention of Oxford

Site C allows more wind, solar energy, experts say

Lawyer, economist argue for completion of B.C. Hydro dam

Record-high temperatures reached in 18 spots in B.C.

White Rock, Victoria and the Fraser Valley made new records for the unusually warm November day

Supreme Court to hear case on whether ISPs can charge for IDing online pirates

Film producers seeking to crack down on people who share copyrighted material illegally

Canadian initiative fuelled by Terry Fox’s dream may be only hope for young cancer patients

Young cancer patients in rural or remote areas did not always get the testing available

Olympic gymnastics ex-doctor pleads guilty to sex charges

Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas are among the women who have publicly said they were among Nassar’s victims

Education minister blasts Chilliwack school trustee on gender issues

Fleming calls Neufeld’s behaviour ‘shameful’ and ‘unacceptable’

Most Read