The Comox Valley school district board meets the third Thursday of every month during the school year. Photo by Scott Strasser

The Comox Valley school district board meets the third Thursday of every month during the school year. Photo by Scott Strasser

Comox Valley schools project student enrolment increase

Council briefs: School district board meeting, May 22

The Comox Valley school district hosted its monthly board of education meeting on May 22 in Courtenay. Here are a few meeting highlights.

Little Bears, big drums

The meeting started on a positive note, with a drumming presentation from the “Little Bears” – a drumming group composed of Kindergarten and Grade 1 Indigenous students from Ecole Puntledge Park. The group drummed and sang songs they had learned in the classroom.

Third consecutive enrolment increase projected

The school district is projecting a 249-student increase in enrolment next year, with 114 new students expected to come to the Valley’s elementary schools in September. (K-Grade 7).

While the school district experienced over a decade of consecutive declining enrolments from the early 2000s onward, next year will mark the third year in a row of student enrolment increases.

In an interview last October, superintendent Dean Lindquist said there were 7,509 students enrolled in the school district’s K–12 system in 2017-18 and 729 in the distance learning system. It marked a three per cent (423-student) increase from 2016-17.

Though some schools operated above their enrolment capacities this year, (resulting in modular classrooms being built for some campuses) director of operations Ian Heselgrave said the school district anticipates space will be sufficient for next year’s enrolment figures.

Budget passes

The board passed its annual budget bylaw for 2018-19 in the amount of $101,651,616. It is the second consecutive budget that will take Comox Valley Schools out of funding protection from the provincial government, according to director of finance Candice Hilton.

(Funding protection provides school districts with additional financial support from the province to combat funding declines larger than 1.5 per cent).

Board chair Janice Caton said she was excited to see a nine-digit budget.

Long-range facilities plan approved

The board also approved the district’s long-range facilities plan, a living document that will outline capital expenditures and priorities for the Comox Valley’s school buildings and structures for the next 10 years.

Long-range facilities plans for school districts are government-mandated in B.C. School districts are required to seek the Ministry of Education’s approval for their plans before any funding for capital expenditures can be approved.

The Comox Valley school district rolled out its plan in February this year.