Student numbers up 

No word on budget impact

The Sea to Sky School District sent in its student list to the provincial government last Friday, Oct. 8, but it will be at least two weeks before numbers are finalized and any budget implications are known.

According to Secretary-Treasurer John Hetherington, they originally budgeted for 4,068 students in district schools, but actual numbers are 4,115 as of Friday. In terms of Full Time Equivalent students, which the province uses in its funding formula, the district has 4,009 FTE students compared to the 3,910 in the original estimate.

FTE is always less than the actual head count because Kindergarten students are only counted for half of a full-time students, and some high school students take less courses than required to count as full-time students.

In Whistler, the head count is 857 students with 779 FTE. The number in elementary schools is up 26 students (24 FTE) over the original budget, and there are two additional kids in high school that account for almost four FTE.

Hetherington says additional students generally mean additional funding for the school board.

"If the increase (in students) is in places where additional money is generated in the government's formula, then yes, there will be additional money generated," said Hetherington. "Whether it's enough is a whole other story."

Like other school boards across the province, the Sea to Sky School District is facing a budget crunch as overall enrolment declines. No schools have been closed, but the school board is currently looking at changing school boundaries in Squamish to spread the number of students out more evenly, or reconfiguring more schools - for example, making Valleycliffe a school for students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 and Stawamus a school for Grade 4 to 7.

As a whole the district has been dealing with a shortfall, with a projected deficit last year of $770,000 at one point. That was reduced $80,000 when the surplus from the previous year was used.

Some of the options the board looked at included eliminating teaching positions, amalgamating classes and possibly even closing schools, as well as delaying non-essential maintenance.




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