The final enrolment numbers for the Langley School District showed that early estimates were correct – there were 917 additional students, the highest jump in student numbers in a single year in recent memory.
The report confirmed preliminary headcounts from September.
The report to the Langley Board of Education in October found that there were 173 more students in Kindergarten, 292 in Grades 1 to 3, 233 more in Grades 4 to 7, and 261 more in Grades 8-10. The only area to see a drop was Grades 11 and 12, which saw 42 fewer students than last year.
This brings the total number of students in schools up to 21,900, a significant jump from last year.
In recent years, much of the growth in student numbers has come in the fast-developing Willoughby area, and although Willoughby still dominated growth, every catchment area saw an increase.
The R.E. Mountain Secondary catchment, which covers much of Willoughby, saw an increase of 564 students, the report said. That includes secondary, middle, and elementary students.
Langley Secondary’s catchment saw an increase of 179 students, Aldergrove was up by 119, Walnut Grove grew by 11, Brookswood was up by nine, and D.W. Poppy grew by 121 students.
International students were also up from 2020, to 851 from 672 the year before, for 179 more students.
The only area to see a decline in student numbers was choice schools and special programs, which dropped by 50 students compared to last year.
Another reshuffling saw the opening this September of Donna Gabriel Robins Elementary in Willoughby take some pressure off of other nearby elementary schools.
Donna Gabriel Robins Elementary enrolled 443 students, while nearby Richard Bulpitt, Lynn Fripps, and Willoughby elementaries saw student numbers drop.
The biggest change in choice programs was at the U-Connect program, which offers a blended program of home and in-school learning. That program saw 44 fewer students enrolled than last year.
There was also a significant increase in special needs students in the district, whis is expected to result in $1.4 million more in provincial funding, noted Trustee Marnie Wilson. She asked if the district has hired more staff, including special education assistants (SEAs) and resource teachers.
District staff said the district has put out job postings for 15 more SEAs since September and is short on resource teachers but is looking for more.
Trustee David Tod noted the historic nature of the enrolment jump.
“Hopefully, there’s a corresponding historic response when it comes to school builds,” he said.
The district has sent a capital funding request to the provincial government and has also written a letter to local MLAs and the minister of education about the need for more schools in Langley.