School enrollment decline continues

  • Jan. 25, 2013 10:00 a.m.

The number of students in schools on the islands continues to drop, and it looks like that’s not going to end soon. “The reality is we have far fewer people coming in to our system than going out,” superintendent Angus Wilson told the school board when it met January 22 in Masset. He said the most significant drop was at Sk’aadgaa Naay in Skidegate, which once had 228 students, but now has just 140. The board is projecting 576 students in schools starting in September, down from 595 last year and 644 in 2011. Student numbers are vital to the board as funding from Victoria is largely based on enrol`ment.”The numbers just continue to go down,” Mr. Wilson said. He also said the board needs to think about how education programs are delivered, and may have to consider “modest staffing reductions.” Trustee Sharon Matthews asked what the board can do to prepare, and Mr. Wilson said the district has already started modal-based programs, is sharing between the schools and is combining classes and amalgamating courses. He said gone are the days when a teacher could teach only art, for example. Now, they must be able to teach more subjects. “We are all generalists now,” Mr. Wilson said. “We need to get our communities involved if we are going to make these big changes, Ms Matthews said, “somehow the public needs to give us some input.” Mr. Wilson said he would work on a public presentation on the issue. The school board operates on a budget of about $12 million, which works out to about $20,000 per student.