More students than ever are choosing Catholic education in Central Alberta.
Early reports from the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools suggest 730.5 more students have enrolled in the district’s 17 schools so far this year. This brings the total student enrolment to 6,980, a 5.4 increase from the 2010-11 school year.
Supt. Paul Mason said while the final tally will not be in until the end of September, this is the largest increase in five years.
“It could be tied to many things,” said Mason. “We’d like to say it is tied to our programming and what we offer students. I think the economy has an effect in that regard. We’re really unsure at this time.”
The district anticipated between a one and two per cent increase in enrolment. Mason said this pleasant surprise means the district will have to use space creatively in its schools.
“Space has been challenge for us for the past couple of years,” he said. “With these increased numbers it is once again a challenge for us to be creative and how we utilize our space.”
Mason said the growth seems to be throughout the division, which is encouraging to see in the elementary schools, such as Maryview School, which has shown a 70 student increase from the previous year.
Spikes in enrolment were also seen at Notre Dame High School with 104 more students; Holy Trinity Catholic School in Olds with 57 more students and St. Thomas Aquinas Middle School with 39 additional students.
Board chairwoman Adriana LaGrange said there are a large number of students coming into the kindergarten programs including an increase in English As a Second Language students.
The jurisdiction released its preliminary the 2011-12 school year enrolment numbers at its first board meeting of the new school year Tuesday evening.
All school jurisdictions must have their final head counts submitted to Alberta Education by Sept. 30.