Union rep questions board

  • Mar. 4, 2013 5:00 p.m.

The fluctuating number of students in the district was the topic of discussion once again as the school board met Feb. 26 at Queen Charlotte Secondary. Superintendent Angus Wilson told trustees the latest enrollment numbers show the district has gained the equivalent of 11 full-time students since classes started in September. He called the increase “modest good news”, adding that many of the new students are enrolled not in an actual school but in the district’s e-school program. “I draw that to your attention, a very significant portion of our population is in alternative education,” he said. The total number of full-time equivalent students in the district was at 605 on Feb. 18, he said. September’s enrollment was 594 students. Mr. Wilson was not optimistic that the trend would continue. For the coming September, he said, he expects there will be another drop, as there has been every year for the past decade. The shrinking enrollment sparked some questions from the Haida Gwaii Teachers’ Association president Evelyn von Almassy. Ms von Almassy asked trustees how they plan to keep cuts away from the classroom, saying that she does not want to see teaching jobs lost just because there are fewer students. Board chair Elizabeth Condrotte responded that trustees are already cutting back on travel. Neither Ms Condrotte nor trustee Carla Lutner will be attending the BC School Trustees Association annual general meeting next month in Kelowna. Mr. Wilson said he will also be trying to reduce travel expenses, but warned that it may not be possible to keep the number of staff the same if student numbers continue to slide. “Our class sizes are effectively the best they’ve ever been,” he said. “If it gets to a point of non-sustainability, something’s got to give.”