Early enrolment figures for the Beautiful Plains School Division (BPSD) show some "surprising" numbers for Neepawa's schools.
After experiencing steady enrolment increases in the two schools in recent years, NACI and HMK have actually combined to see a drop of 11 students to start the 2013-14 school year as compared to this time last year.
That enrolment number is also down from this past June, but the
Division isn't concerned about the drop.
"This is somewhat surprising but not alarming," BPSD superintendent Jason Young explained. "We typically see our enrolments down in Septembers and then it grows throughout the year."
Young added that the lower number comes as a result of the incoming Kindergarten class being smaller than anticipated. The Division had planned for around 60 Kindergarten students this year, but have only 47 registered.
"Outside of a small Kindergarten class, our numbers have remained
constant," Young noted.
The make-up of the two school sizes has changed dramatically this year though, thanks to the Grade 6 realignment in Neepawa.
NACI, which has added two portable classrooms on site, now has 460 students while HMK has about 360. If the Grade 6 realignment had not occurred, the breakdown would see about 420 students at NACI and 400 at HMK.
"These are the numbers the schools were designed to accommodate," Young explained. "If we had not transitioned the Grade 6 students...this would have left very little room at HMK where we expect to see most of our growth over the next year or two."
The Division expects between 30 to 40 new students to enrol in Neepawa's schools throughout this school year, with another 100 to 120 students coming throughout the 2014-15 school year.
"We expect them to trickle in throughout the year (in 2014), so we expect all those students to be here to start the 2015 school year," Young explained.
Meanwhile, the Division's two smaller rural schools have both experienced student declines of different amounts this summer.
In Eden, the enrolment stayed relatively stable at 28 students to start the year, after beginning last year with 29 students.
In Brookdale, the student decline was more noticeable as its enrolment dropped to 20 students, down from 24 students in 2012-13 and 36 students in 2011-12.
The decline doesn't concern the Division, though.
"With our small schools, we see highs and lows from year-to-year," Young explained. "When you are dealing with smaller numbers, all it takes is one family with several children to move in or out of a school to make the numbers appear to have drastically changed."
Other BPSD enrolment figures include 326 students at Carberry Collegiate, 178 at R.J. Waugh in Carberry, 21 at Acadia Colony, 13 at Fairway Colony and Riverside Colony, 16 at Riverbend Colony, 17 at Rolling Acres Colony, 33 at Sprucewoods Colony, 15 at Twilight Colony and 36 at Willerton Colony.