By Jaime Polmateer
School is back in full swing and a look at enrolment numbers for local elementary schools suggest the population is growing, at least in how it pertains to the collective student body.
Spring projections made by School District No. 73 (SD73) were surpassed by both Raft River and Vavenby Elementary Schools, with Blue River seeing a drop of only one student.
According to Rob Schoen, assistant superintendent with SD73, Raft River Elementary School was expected to have 265 students attend this fall, but ended up with 276 and Vavenby Elementary was anticipated to have eight students, but is currently guiding 14 through their studies this year.
Blue River Elementary was projected to see 11 students, but dropped by one to 10 children for the school year.
“What we do is roll everybody over a year, so whoever is in the school in February, we assume they’re all going to stay and then we look at kindergarten registration and we say, okay, the people who suddenly come into kindergarten, plus whatever we roll over, that’s the projection,” Schoen said.
“(The numbers) would indicate, I think, that we’ve had a bit of growth in Clearwater.”
When it comes to staffing, he said he’ll be adding one more teacher to round out Raft River Elementary School’s roster, but other than that, the area is well-staffed for the 2018-19 school year.
“I think we’ll have looked after Clearwater really well and Clearwater looks after us well, so it’s a symbiotic relationship.”
Schoen admitted it can be hard finding staff willing to commit to educating in rural areas for the long-term, but SD73 has had remarkable success in doing so for the Clearwater area.
“Usually it’s a little more challenging to get people to go to the rural communities, but the teachers that have been going out have been, without exception, just wonderful,” he said
“We take our time, we get good people and it’s a little more labour intensive, but we’re happy with the results.”