Abbotsford’s public schools have seen enrolment decline much more than expected, according to the school district.
The district, which educates more than 18,000 students each year, had expected around 100 fewer students to attend school this fall. Instead, initial counts suggest enrolment is down by an additional 120 students on top of that expected drop.
While it is not uncommon for enrolment to fluctuate or for early projections to be off, this year’s drop may be the result of the teachers’ strike, according to school district communications manager Dave Stephen.
“This is more than we projected,” he said. “I would assume that some parents have decided to try alternate education for their kids.”
The decline in enrolment was greatest on the western side of the district, and is expected to result in the elimination of four full-time-equivalent teaching positions.
A final headcount will take place on Oct. 17, with those numbers used by the province to allocate funding. The school board also changed its schedule in order to move the start of the second semester by a week, to Feb. 10.
The move was made in the wake of the teachers’ strike to ensure both semesters have roughly the same number of teaching days.
The school board also announced an instructional day that had initially been scheduled for Sept. 22 will be moved to Nov. 10. With Remembrance Day the following day, the move will create a four-day weekend for students.