More students are getting a Red Deer education.
Enrolment has climbed 4.3 per cent at Red Deer Catholic schools in the city and Red Deer Public Schools saw a 4.1 per cent increase for the term.
As of the end of September, Red Deer Public had 10,842 students and Catholic schools had 6,197 students. Enrolment at Central Alberta’s francophone school École La Prairie rose to 140 kindergarten to Grade 9 students, up from 134. The new North Central Francophone Education Region school in Red Deer was built for students up to Grade 12.
Bruce Buruma, Red Deer Public Schools community relations director, said having 331 more students in the district is comparable to the population of an elementary school.
“We are a growing district and Red Deer is a growing community,” Buruma said.
The district’s new Ecole Barrie Wilson Elementary School opened in September with just over 400 students, 100 more than anticipated.
The school for English and French immersion students serves kindergarten to Grade 5.
“That’s a growing community so that school will be filled fairly soon,” said Buruma about the Timberlands school.
He said a few elementary schools in the city have seen a slight decline in enrolment as some students moved to Barrie Wilson to deal with overcrowding elsewhere. Growth in the district is mostly at the younger grades.
Barrie Wilson’s current capacity is 500. Four modular classrooms could be added in the future that would increase capacity to 600 students.
Rod Steeves, secretary treasurer with Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division, said its new school Father Henri Voisin School in Clearview Ridge, for pre-kindergarten to Grade 5, also opened with more students than expected with 248 students.
“A couple of our schools dropped in student count because of that but not substantially,” Steeves said.
Catholic schools saw a 4.1 increase in enrolment with a total of 8,887 students across the division, including a 13 per cent increase in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students.
In addition to Red Deer, the Catholic regional division operates schools in Sylvan Lake, Rocky Mountain House, Innisfail and Olds.
Elsewhere in Central Alberta, Chinook’s Edge School Division saw a one per cent increase in enrolment. The division has 10,914 students, up from 10,806.
Superintendent Kurt Sacher said Sylvan Lake and Penhold were among the communities that have seen more growth.
The new Penhold Crossing Secondary School, with Grades 7 to 12, drew 217 students, 35 more than projected.
“It’s off to a great start. In the community, the growth at the young end has been overwhelming,” Sacher said.
Most of the students came from River Glen School, which the division closed in Red Deer. River Glen is now operated by Red Deer Public as Gateway Christian School.
Sylvan Lake saw a 1.7 per cent increase in student population.
Sacher said Chinook’s Edge is working to stay on top of growth in Sylvan Lake.
“As the young students make their way through the grades, we’re going to need to be ready for them.”
Chinook’s Edge also operates schools in Red Deer County, Olds, Delburne, Innisfail, Crossfield, Cremona, Carstairs, Elnora Bowden, Didsbury, Benalto, Spruce View and Sundre.