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Enrolment keeps climbing at New Westminster schools

Rapid growth is putting the squeeze on facility space, especially in the central part of the city
Qayqayt Elementary
Ëcole Qayqayt Elementary School is the city's fastest-growing elementary school. Enrolment in New Westminster schools is steadily climbing.

Up, up and up some more.

That’s pretty much the direction enrolment is heading for the New Westminster school district – especially in the city’s core.

School District 40’s kindergarten-to-Grade 12 schools have seen a significant increase in enrolment over last year, according to numbers presented at the school board’s Oct. 12 operations committee meeting.

As of Sept. 29, the district’s 12 schools had 6,466 full-time-equivalent students, up 226 from last year’s 6,240.

A big chunk of that increase comes from New Westminster Secondary School, which is up 123 students over last year (1,840 compared to 1,717).

Among elementary schools, the largest increases can be seen at schools in the central part of the city.

École Qayqayt Elementary School, downtown, saw a 39-student jump, from 522 in 2020/21 to 561 students this year. In the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood, Lord Kelvin Elementary saw a similar 35-student jump, from 486 students last year to 521 students this year.

Herbert Spencer Elementary, in Glenbrooke North, has seen a 21-student jump, from 471 to 492.

Fraser River Middle School – which draws students from the centre and west side of the city – has seen a 16-student jump, from 539 to 555.

And the upward trend shows no sign of slowing down, as the school district’s projections show a continued increase in enrolment out to 2035, particularly in the near future.

“We’re really going to feel some capacity pressures over the next five-year period,” secretary-treasurer Bettina Ketcham noted.

To help alleviate enrolment pressures, the school district is looking for money for both a new middle school and a new elementary school in the Fraser River zone, which encompasses the centre and western side of the city.

It has also revised its long-range facilities plan to look at ways to accommodate growth in Queensborough.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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