Enrolment increase surprises Red Deer public school district

More teachers are being hired to instruct more students

Stu Henry, superintendent of Red Deer public schools (contributed photo).

An enrolment hike of 250 students was a happy surprise for Red Deer’s public school district.

About 10 additional teachers are being hired this month to bring over-large classes in high school and middle school down to more a manageable size, said Stu Henry, superintendent of Red Deer public schools.

The gain in students means the district now has a total enrolment of 10,950. “It’s getting close to 11,000. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be there by the end of the month,” added Henry, who added that district administrators were “pleasantly surprised” by the increase.

“Considering the state of Red Deer’s economy, we thought our enrolment would be pretty flat again, like it was last year,” said Henry, who feels it bodes well for Red Deer’s fiscal recovery that more families are moving to the city — particularly, it seems, parents with older children.

Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School is seeing the largest enrolment gain, with at least 80 more students enrolled this fall. With more classes now being formed at the school, some timetable changes will be necessary, according to a letter received by parents of Lindsay Thurber students.

Hunting Hills High School is seeing a boost of 40 pupils. But the biggest surprise, according to Henry is that Normandeau School, which offers Grades K-8 in an established neighbourhood, received 60 additional students. That’s more than a 10 per cent enrolment increase for the school, which is now pushing 500 pupils.

Henry isn’t sure why these three schools have seen the largest gains — although having more affordable housing options in Normandeau might be one of the factors.

Some other schools, including the new Don Campbell Elementary School, have also gained additional students, but aren’t experienced as large increases.

Most of the needed new teachers have already been hired by the public district, with more instructors coming on board in all core curriculum areas, said Henry.

Additional enrolment “is a good problem to have,” he added, although infrastructure at some schools is getting fairly tight.

According to district projections, a new Red Deer public middle school will be needed in three to five years, and a third high school in eight to 10 years.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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