Enrolment stagnant

While Summerland’s two elementary schools are operating close to capacity, enrolment is sparse at the middle school and high school.

While Summerland’s two elementary schools are operating close to capacity, enrolment is sparse at Summerland Middle School and Summerland Secondary School.

The enrolment at the end of January showed the full-time equivalent of 1,322 students, exactly the same as at the end of January, 2013.

Linda Van Alphen, one of two Summerland school trustees, said the school enrolment level in Summerland will remain near its present level for around the next 10 years.

“We are holding steady. We are flatlining in Summerland,” she said.

While the overall numbers are steady, the enrolment at Summerland Secondary School has been declining.

The January 2014 enrolment was 446 students, down from 471 in the same month a year earlier.

Slight enrolment increases were observed at Summerland Middle School and Giant’s Head Elementary School, while Trout Creek Elementary School has a slight decline.

The schools at present could accommodate around 350 additional students.

Because the enrolment figures are lower than in past years, the effect is a loss of programming for students, especially at the high school level, Van Alphen said.

“Hopefully, something will happen that will break the logjam we are in,” she said.

The student enrolment trends also reflect census data for the community.

While Summerland’s population increased by 4.2 per cent between the 2006 census and the 2011 census, the community has been aging in recent years.

According to figures from Statistics Canada, the number of children 14 years of age and younger decreased by 6.2 per cent from 2006 to 2011.

Children 14 and younger made up 12.8 per cent of Summerland’s population in 2011, compared with 16.7 per cent nationally.

The median age in Summerland has been increasing and in 2011, it was 52.

The largest age groups in the community are those between 45 and 64 years of age.