Increasing student populations at Tumbler Ridge Elementary (TRE) played a big role in School District 59’s (SD59) board decision last Wednesday (February 23) to keep Grade 7 students at Tumbler Ridge Secondary School.
“The logistics of it just didn’t make sense at the end of the day,” said SD59 superintendent Rob Dennis.
With a doubling of the kindergarten class this year and the expected start of the StrongStart program at Tumbler Ridge Elementary school in September, Dennis said the disparity in student numbers between the elementary and high schools will begin to even out.
“This year was a double cohort (in kindergarten), and we expect that’s going to continue going into the future,” said Dennis.
The StrongStart program is not yet a guarantee, but it’s expected to be approved by the province.
“We’ve made an application,” said Dennis. “We don’t anticipate that it won’t be accepted.”
All those students would add up to more classrooms than the school can provide, Dennis said.
“With the StrongStart program, you’re now talking three classrooms. Put the Grade 7s back in, and it’s four classrooms. TRE just doesn’t have the wiggle room to pull four classrooms.”
Impending demographic changes in Tumbler Ridge makes keeping Grade 7s at the elementary school a difficult prospect, Dennis added.
“We just can’t do it if we don’t have some predictability and stability in the system,” he said.