Salmon Arm  

More students with autism, new English learners in North Okanagan-Shuswap

More students with autism

Enrolment in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District hit 6,800 students, as of Sept. 30.

A School District 83 update notes several trends, including a spike in the number of students with autism and who are new to learning English.

The district covers schools in the area from Armstrong to Salmon Arm.

The school board says data collection shows the number of children with autism went up by 29 students over last school year.

This is partially attributed to earlier diagnosis, with testing being done with children before they start school.

"Children are coming into the school with really complex needs, requiring significant amounts of support. We are working hard with our teams to meet these needs," the board says.

Another "significant shift" this year is the number of English Language Learners (ELL) students.

"Historically, we have had about 35-44. Last year, we had 39. This year we have 71," the board update says.

The district will have to increase the number of ELL teachers from the current 1.6 to 3 full-time teachers to meet that demand.

Students are coming from the world but from several. "It is no one country that students are coming from, it is quite diverse."

Nineteen per cent, or 1,281 students, identify as Indigenous, up from 1,236 last year.

The largest school in the district is Shuswap Middle School in Salmon Arm, with 663.

Secondary students make up 25 per cent of the total student population.

"We are seeing a trend where we have higher numbers of secondary students compared to the numbers of K-4 students enrolled in the system," the board says.

The majority of school districts' funding is determined by the annual 1701 student count, which tracks student movement, how many home schoolers are registered with the district, and enrolment trends.

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