1 in 4 West Vancouver students from out of district

Jane Seyd - North Shore News

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Howard Zhao, a Grade 10 student at Sentinel, won the fencing championship for the men’s epee under 17 at the North American Cup held this month in California. Christina Zozulya, also a Grade 10 Sentinel student, is ranked number one in Canada among women fencers under 17. Both students attend West Vancouver’s fencing academy, the kind of program which has added to West Vancouver’s appeal as a “destination” school district. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

About one-quarter of the students who attend classes in West Vancouver public schools don’t live in the municipality.

Of the just more than 6,800 students in the school district, 1,673 of those commute to West Vancouver from other areas of the Lower Mainland.

“It’s quite a large number,” said Kim Martin, acting associate superintendent for the West Vancouver school district.

That’s not even including international students, who number about 500, and also make up a sizable portion of the school district’s population.

When those figures are included, up to three in 10 students attending West Vancouver schools are from outside the area.

“We are a destination district,” said Martin. “We attract students from out of the district into our schools.”

That trend has typically meant schools in the eastern part of the school district, nearest to commuting corridors, fill up fastest.

Students have typically been attracted to West Vancouver’s fee-paying academy programs, which offer specialized instruction during school hours in more than 10 different subject areas, ranging from ballet to robotics. West Vancouver schools have also earned a reputation for academic success in recent years, with students performing well on the ministry of education’s standardized Foundation Skills Assessment tests.

Martin said students enrol in West Vancouver schools from throughout the Lower Mainland, although more students come from North Vancouver than other areas.

There are about 80 more students enrolled in West Vancouver this year than last year, according to preliminary figures provided to the ministry of education at the end of September.

The number of English Language Learner students has continued to increase this year with 1,166 students falling into that category. The number of students registered in French immersion is also up slightly to 1,044. Both of West Vancouver’s French immersion schools are full at the kindergarten level, said Martin, adding the schools are so popular the district has to decide who gets a spot with a lottery system.

The school district has also been busy hiring teachers over the past several months.
More than 50 new teachers have been hired after more than 40 teachers out of 540 resigned over the summer.

Most of the teachers who resigned were staff who had been commuting to West Vancouver from other areas of Metro Vancouver and were offered jobs closer to their homes, said Martin.

Enrolment in North Vancouver School District is also up this year.

Preliminary enrolment figures in North Vancouver put the number of students at 15,127 at the end of September – 240 students above the projected enrolment of 14,877.

That’s encouraging, said Mark Pearmain, superintendent for the North Vancouver school district.

Last year, enrolment figures in North Vancouver unexpectedly fell by 200 students – the result of high school students not taking full course loads and therefore not being counted as full-time students by the ministry of education.

Those numbers appear to have rebounded and the district is seeing a small but steady growth, fuelled by increased enrolment in elementary grades, said Pearmain.

Geographically, schools in the Central Lonsdale corridor continues to see increased enrolment, said Pearmain, while enrolment is declining slightly in the eastern part of the school district and holding its own in areas like Lynn Valley.

Distance learning, which allows students to take courses online throughout the year, remains popular, with more than 220 students expected to register this year.

Enrolment figures provided to the ministry of education showed 926 kids registered in North Vancouver are ELL students and 661 students are designated as having special needs. There are also 683 fee-paying international students registered in North Vancouver schools.

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