Lethbridge schools continue to grow with more students

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge schools seeing an uptick in students'
Lethbridge schools seeing an uptick in students
Both Lethbridge School Division and Holy Spirit Catholic School Division will soon be opening their new student registration. As Jaclyn Kucey reports, both are seeing steady growth with plans for new schools already in motion – Jan 19, 2024

Classrooms are bustling as school divisions across the Lethbridge area continue to see growth.

Last year, Holy Spirit Catholic School Division welcomed more than 200 students and its total student population has grown to over 5,000.

“We didn’t quite anticipate the growth that we ended up having,” said Ken Sampson, superintendent of schools, Holy Spirit Catholic School Division.

Sampson said a lot of that growth is coming from new families to Alberta.

“Some of our schools are growing incredibly with diversity in terms of cultural and national ethnics from other parts of the world,” said Sampson, who credited many of those as international students, some coming from Mexico and Ukraine.

“Families from the Philippines as well is another area that we’re seeing, and they’re all over the division from the east in Taber all the way to the west in Pincher Creek,” said Sampson.

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Click to play video: 'Students, staff excited for new school year in Lethbridge'
Students, staff excited for new school year in Lethbridge

Lethbridge School Division has over 12,000 students. That’s up around 340 students from K-12. Supt. Mike Nightingale said that growth is on pace for a two- to three-per cent increase every year.

“Lethbridge continues to grow and we continue to need schools to grow,” said Nightingale.

Holy Spirit Catholic School Division plans to break ground on a new school on the west side this year with hopes to open in the fall of 2026 to making room for around 200 students.

“We’ll definitely see some stability and evening out across our division,” said Sampson.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge students heading back to school'
Lethbridge students heading back to school

Meanwhile, Lethbridge School Division opened Dr. Robert Plaxton Elementary on the south side in 2021, and a new elementary school on the west side is currently being built, with an anticipated September 2025 opening date.

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“It’s difficult in that resources don’t necessarily keep up with the growth, particularly, the government moved to a weighted moving average way of funding, which means not every student is fully funded.

“For growing school divisions, it takes us two or three years for our funding to catch up to the number of students that we have in the division, so that always impact our class sizes or our funding or everything that we do,” said Nightingale.

“No question about it: our buildings get at capacity with the growth coming in.”

With a new school year coming up, new student registration opens soon for Lethbridge school division and Feb. 1 for Holy Spirit.

“We are expecting a healthy increase for the 2024-35 school year as well,” said Sampson.

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