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Student numbers lower than projected

Could parents across B.C. be pulling their kids out of public school because they are fed up with teachers’ job action?

It’s a possibility, said Langley School District secretary-treasurer David Green.

At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Green told trustees that for the first time the student head count numbers are below what he projected for the school year, by around 200 students. The predictions are usually quite accurate.

“This represents a significant funding loss,” said Green.

Trustee Rod Ross asked Green where the students went.

“Every district across B.C. is experiencing lower head counts than predicted.  Surrey is below projections as well and that is the fastest growing district in the province,” said Green.

He said the question of where the students are going came up at a meeting with other secretary-treasurers from around B.C.

“There is a sense some parents have taken kids out of the public education system and it’s related to the job action of teachers. Whether enrolment of independent schools has gone up isn’t known, but we intend to find out.”

Green plans to bring back a report to the board that hopefully will explain the exodus of students from public schools.

The executive director of the Federation of Independent Schools doesn’t think the students in Langley left for private schools.

“I don’t think that will be accurate,” said Peter Froese. “We have seen indications that transfers are up but it’s not consistent throughout B.C. “

The total number of students enrolled in Langley public schools is 19,122, up from 19,078 in 2011.

Enrolment is up in some places, steady in others and in a few pockets it is down, Froese said. Actual numbers will be released in October. As for Langley, he said most independent schools are full so there is little room for new enrolment. Home schooling or moving may play a role in the difference. That information will come out next month.

As in years past, secondary schools continue to see a population decline with the exception of R.E. Mountain, which saw an increase of 81 students this year. Choice schools continue to see increases. There are 29 fewer international students this September from last.

Langley Secondary is down 113 students, Aldergrove Secondary is down 55, Walnut Grove is up by 11 students. Most elementary schools stayed the same for enrolment, with some seeing a slight decline.

The Ministry of Education provides the district with $6,784 per full-time student.

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