Langley student population drops

In the 2011-2012 school year, the number of students in the Langley School District be two per cent smaller than the year before.

There will be 363 fewer full-time equivalents in the system, which will mean about $1.7 million less from the provincial government.

That is bad news for a school district that is already facing a funding crunch.

The district will save about $1 million because it will need fewer teachers and support staff for a smaller student population, but that still leaves a loss of around $700,000 that will have to come out of the budget.

That’s on top of the $13.5 million the district is required to pay back to the provincial government for running an operating deficit, and it is one of the reasons why budget cuts will be even deeper than first expected, rising from $3.4 to $4.4 million a year over the four years of required repayments.

It’s the first time Langley student numbers have fallen in five years, but it will not be the last.

Superintendent Cheryle Beaumont says every group of graduates from now on will be smaller than before.

“The last of the big grade 12 classes is gone,” she told trustees at a Tuesday night board meeting.

Conventional wisdom has been that an increased number of students generated by new housing in the Willoughby slope area would compensate for the decline everywhere else in Langley, but secretary-treasurer David Green has his doubts.

“I think the growth on the slope may not be as great as we thought,” Green warned Tuesday.

Next week, trustees will decide exactly where budget cuts must be made.

Options include cuts to elementary remedial reading programs and saving money by refusing to replace clerical staff on their first day off work.

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