Student enrolment in Langley has stayed the same, at around 18,696 pupils, since 2008. The number of students in Langley is up slightly, by 199, this year over last, but that is mostly coming from children wanting to attend choice schools and from the housing boom in Willoughby, said secretary-treasurer David Green.
While the district did see an increase in enrolment this year, Green said his predicted head count before the numbers were official was off by around 280 students. The biggest variance was in the primary level at community schools, which saw a shortfall of 155 students, which translates to just over a $1 million provincial funding loss.
Staff were aware of this variance in September and managed to mitigate the loss of funding by removing seven elementary school teaching positions, said Green. Also, a teaching position at one of the alternate schools was not filled, Green said.
At an October Langley board of education meeting, Trustee Megan Dykeman asked him if that was going to impact classrooms.
“We had numbers that didn’t materialize with classes that would have been on the edge of maybe needing another teacher or not,” explained assistant superintendent Claire Guy.
Green’s report didn’t indicate why fewer students enrolled this year than predicted. The strange variance was felt across B.C., with Surrey seeing fewer new students than expected, and falling enrolment numbers in Vancouver.
While there were some initial indications it may be that parents are taking kids out of the public school system and into private or home schooling, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Most districts are calling the variance “a blip.”
Langley saw 36 fewer international students this year. The district relies on funding from international students. The district saw an increase of around 120 more special needs students. Year after year, there has been a steady increase in special needs students, pointed out Trustee Alison McVeigh.
She said she believes that is from more children being diagnosed earlier. In Langley schools, there are double the number of male students with special needs, compared to females.