School Superintendent Kevin Gietz said the student numbers have risen in Coaldale from the end of the 2012-2013 school year to the start of the new school year in September especially at the elementary grade levels.
Jennie Emery Elementary School in fact is out of space. He said the school district is addressing the issue of space as best it can and has already manipulated additional instructional space to free up some more room in the school for classes.
He said Coalhurst Elementary School is also facing the same growth issues.
“We’re addressing those.”
The alternative program for Low-German speaking students at Barons School has also experienced growth this fall.
The Calgary schools operated under the banner of Palliser have also experienced growth from last year to the start of this fall’s classes. Overall Gietz said the Palliser student population is up 200 over projections made for this fall.
As of the end of September, when student numbers are considered official for government funding purposes, Palliser had a student population of 7,450.
“It’s the biggest Palliser has ever been,” noted Gietz.
With almost three months of the school year already in the books, Gietz said, even with the election for school board thrown into the mix, the start up for the new year was quiet.
“It was fantastic.”
He said the start-up for the new school year was extremely well done and across the district schools are seeing stable, healthy student numbers.
On the transportation end there were no problems and Gietz even ventured to call it the “best fall ever”.
He praised the “Think of Us on the Bus” campaign which rolled out again this fall and the work Dave Shaw, transportation supervisor, has been doing to ensure students arrive at their schools safely.
He also expressed appreciation to the Lethbridge County for their financial support of $5,000 for the school bus safety campaign.
There was at least one unusual challenge to the start of the new school year. The flooding earlier this summer impacted the school in Arrowwood as it washed out a bridge that allowed access to the community from the north. No one north of the bridge can get across the river or get to school.
Gietz said this all came about on the heels of a rebuild for the school following an arson fire last year.
“We had to rebuild,” said school board chair Colleen Deitz.
Gietz said even while the fire was still being put out parents were already expressing concerns about the future of the school. Now with the bridge washed out the school has lost 15 students.
“They can’t cross the river,” said Gietz.
“Everyone is affected by the flood,” added Deitz.
Gietz noted there is still no definite information available on when or if the bridge will be rebuilt.
When it comes to the educational focus for the new school year, Gietz said Palliser is concentrating this year on literacy at all grade levels.
Palliser is also exploring the inclusion of more international students and the launch of its new cyber school.
“We’ll have a name for it very soon.”
Already Palliser has over 30 students registered in cyber school. The program is expanding for junior high and high school students with Palliser teachers handling the curriculum rather than see local students go outside the district for online schooling.