LETHBRIDGE: Numbers won't be final until the end of the month, but Lethbridge's public school district superintendent is "cautiously optimistic" about a jump in enrollment. Early estimates show School District 51 expects an increase of about 400 students over last year - quite a jump compared to a projected increase of about 70 students.
More students mean more funding to hire 8.5 fulltime teaching equivalents. The new teachers should help bridge the gap left by some 50 teaching and assistant positions cut earlier this year, due to government belt tightening.
"I think it all boils down to the fact that our teachers and our staff are committed to providing quality learning atmospheres for all our students," Superintendent Barry Litun told Country 95 News. About 100 new students are enrolled in kindergarten, with about 300 enrolled in high schools.
Litun attributes the jump in elementary school numbers, at least in part, to a reduction of school fees. The board dropped a $40/year registration fee and a lunch supervision fee of up to $360/year for elementary school students.
As for the increase in high school students, about half of them are enrolled at the newly revamped Victoria Park high school. Litun says students are drawn to a new mix of additional options, including the chance to take food, arts and cosmetology courses in combination with more traditional classes.