Kindergarten registration jump starts this week

“The better handle we have on what enrolment is going to be next year, the more refined our budget projection can be.” ~ Luterbach

Kindergarten registration started a week earlier this year for parents, some who wait to find out whether their child gets the luck of a draw to attend a language program of their preference.

Next school year marks the second year in a two-year early French immersion pilot program out of Twin Rivers Elementary School in Castlegar. The class allows room for 22 students, and if there is more interest School District 20 plans on pulling names from the proverbial hat.

The same system is set for the Russian bilingual program, should interest exceed the 22 student legislative limit for the class also out of Twin Rivers. But interest in the Russian program has been lower in the past few years, and the Board of Education is in conversation around ways to generate interest in the long-running program that has meant an awful lot to the Doukhobor community in the Castlegar area.

“Honestly, what we find is some families will say, ‘My first preference is Russian, and if I don’t get into Russian then I’m interested in French and then the English program,” said Greg Luterbach, superintendent of schools. “Some families are having those conversations now, and I know some people are very anxious to get in.”

After parents enrol their “kindies” this week, Luterbach will check in with catchment schools next week to get a first glance at numbers.

“We’re doing it a couple of weeks earlier this year just because we’d like to get a better handle on those numbers a bit earlier, given some financial pressure we’re feeling in the upcoming budget,” explained Luterbach. “The better handle we have on what enrolment is going to be next year, the more refined our budget projection can be.”

Kindergarten enrolment is part of a formula used to project enrolment, he explained.

SD20 follows Interior Health birthrates and makes a comparison with a running spreadsheet that looks at actual numbers and historical patterns, such as the number of tots registered early from the student count at the end of September.

The projections help the district plan for the right amount of teachers and classrooms needed for a given school year.

“Typically we’ve had more Kindergarten students than were born in this area five years previously,” said Luterbach.

“Last year was an anomaly because it was the first time in the last five years where I really started doing this analysis, where I’ve had fewer kids show up in Kindergarten than were born in the area five years ago.

“It was a one-time thing so I wouldn’t say it’s a trend yet but I’m interested to see what this Friday’s numbers look like.”

Children who turn five years old between Jan. 1, 2016, and December 31, 2016, should plan to register for Kindergarten September 2016 during Kindergarten registration this week.

Parents or guardians should bring their child’s birth certificate, care card and, if applicable, legal documents regarding custody, with them when registering at their catchment area school, according to SD20’s website.

Once registered, parents can opt to fill out a student transfer request form if they would like their child to attend a different school, or fill out a language program application form if they would like their child to attend the Russian Bilingual Language Program or the Early French Immersion Language Program.