Families reminded to register their kids before school starts

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Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is encouraging families to register their children for the school year if they haven’t already.

As of late August, elementary school enrolment is lower than projections, according to Dale Burgos, NLPS director of communications.

“Enrolment for elementary is looking soft” but the district expects registration to pick up closer to the start of school. Why that could be is not exactly clear.

“Some reasons are communities with high transiency rates,” Burgos said. “A lot of students move around or into the district over the summer.”

Secondary school enrolment is slightly higher than projections, “but not by much.

“If there are new families in communities, or families who haven’t registered yet, get out there and register.”

The preliminary estimate for the 2022-23 school year is 15,046 students across the district.

The district’s spring-released preliminary budget estimates an increase of 170 students over 2021-22. That would mean approximately $1.7 million in additional funding from the province. Actual enrolment for last school year was 411 full-time equivalent over the preliminary estimates, though the district says it was conservative with its calculations. That increase was due to students returning to in-person learning, secondary students returning to full-time course loads as before the COVID-19 pandemic as well as overall growth in the district.

NLPS continues to expect to see more students returning to classrooms this fall, Burgos said. The district is estimating 355 spots in distributed learning this year.

Final enrolment will be determined in the fall. The Ministry of Education notifies school districts of their confirmed operating grants in December. NLPS’s operating grant last year was $143.7 million.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder