The Central Okanagan School Board has approved a reduction in the number of international students attending Kelowna High School (KSS) from 65 to 50 full-time equivalents for the 2022-2023 school year.
The reduction is a response to the registration pressure that KSS is currently facing.
Other measures already in place to deal with this pressure include establishing a French immersion program at Okanagan-Mission Secondary for students in that school’s catchment area who would otherwise have attended KSS, and a measure still under discussion to redirect incoming students from Westside FI from KSS to Mont Boucherie Secondary.
This school year, KSS has 58 FTEs from the school district’s international education program, stopping before meeting the 65 FTE cap to allow short-term students to extend through to the second semester while maintaining the level of ceiling approved by the board. .
Last spring, school counselors raised concerns that international students were filling potential places that might otherwise be reserved for resident students at a time when KSS enrollment had reached a crisis stage.
Kevin Kaardal, Superintendent / CEO of Central Okanagan Public Schools, said managing the IED program is a complex endeavor, trying to balance the desires of incoming international students where the capacity for the program exists.
Part of that, he says, is making sure that no classroom is wasted for domestic students who need full credits to graduate.
“In some cases, these students help fill out programs that otherwise might not be available to resident students due to a lack of enrollment,” Kaardal said.
He also noted the continued evolution of central Okanagan high schools, as grades 9 to 12 will also impact student enrollment changes for district schools, potentially further reducing the FTE cap for KSS in the next school year.
On the business side, the program is also a source of income for the school district, with that income going to support school programs that would not otherwise be funded in the budget, such as enrichment programs and initiatives to help students. new students and families recently arrived in Canada. .
A report from school district staff says that since its inception, the program has generated $ 30 million in net income to subsidize other education programs. It is expected to generate net income of nearly $ 3.5 million for the 2021-2022 school year.
For the 2019-2020 school year, students in the program represented 33 countries and jurisdictions, with the largest contingent coming from Germany, Japan, Mexico, Italy, China and Spain.
“The district’s approach is different from other districts of similar size where you rely heavily on just one or two markets to create a larger program,” the school district staff report said.
Dependence on international students was brought to light during COVID when travel restrictions limited travel for international students, resulting in a significant financial income gap for many school districts in British Columbia to overcome.
The education council also passed a resolution last spring to review the cap for international students at KSS by mid-October of each school year as long as student enrollment capacity issues persist at the school. secondary.