School enrolment is reaching new heights for local school jurisdictions.
Red Deer Public Schools has 10,884 students in the city, and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools has 10,083 counting its schools in Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Blackfalds, Innisfail, Rocky Mountain House, and Olds.
“It’s the first time we’ve broken the 10,000 threshold. It’s momentous for us,” said Red Deer Catholic superintendent Paul Mason.
“We have a 5.7 per cent increase in student population.”
This month the regional division opened St. Joseph High School in Red Deer and St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Blackfalds.
“It’s helpful having the two new schools but our utilization rates were so high to begin with the utilization rates are still remaining high, right around that 100 per cent range,” Mason said.
Red Deer Public Schools grew by about two per cent to also reach its largest student population ever, said Bruce Buruma, director of community relations.
“We’re very, very close to topping that 11,000 student mark and that will be a good thing for us and a great thing for Red Deer if we’ve got more young people coming into our community with kids,” Buruma said.
He said over two/thirds of students in Red Deer attend Red Deer Public. Most of the new growth has been at its two high schools and Normandeau School, which offers grades K-8. The high schools are full, but a new middle school will be its next priority.
Red Deer Public opened Don Campbell School, a kindergarten to Grade 5 school, this month.
“We do believe given the high number of students growing in elementary grades, that bubble is really going to start to hit middle school,” Buruma said.
Red Deer Catholic is also looking to get another middle school in Red Deer, Mason said.
He said the English as a Second Language students are the Catholic’s fastest growing student population.
“We have over 2,000 ESL students in our school division. We have 57 different language and dialects spoken in our schools. That’s an exciting development for us,” Mason said.
Red Deer Public has also seen more ESL students over the years, and welcomed the largest number of Syrian students who came to the Red Deer, Buruma said.