Student numbers add up By Chris Woodall There are more students, and most of them are in Whistler. That's the bottom line on the latest figures from Howe Sound district school board: 4,517 students at 13 elementary and secondary schools, up from 4,334 a year ago. There are 140 new student bodies in the Whistler area this year. That increase accounts for most (77 per cent) of the 183 new brain pans the school board as a whole has to teach this year over last. The school board chairman calls it a "significant increase" in the board's student population. "It's a good healthy growth," says Constance Rulka. To make a quick comparison of Whistler schools would seem to show slight decreases in their numbers, but factoring Whistler's new secondary school in the right way indicates otherwise. On the surface of it, Myrtle Philip elementary went from 435 students at December, 1995, down to 427 by the beginning of November, this year. But Myrtle Philip has one less grade this year. Last year Myrtle Philip included Grade 7; this year Grade 7 classes are taught at Whistler Secondary. The Pemberton schools — traditional homes for Whistler students until this fall — started December ’95 at 404 (secondary) and 419 (elementary), but fell to 237 for the high school and basically held steady (420) at the elementary school, by last month. The difference is Whistler's secondary school. The numbers seem to show it dropping to 315 student bodies now from 321 in September, but the school didn't exist a year ago. While that wouldn't affect Pemberton's Signal Hill elementary school, Whistler Secondary’s opening tally of students at September this year shows what it scooped from Whistler's elementary school, Pemberton's high school and some high schools in the Lower Mainland. The numbers continue to say something about provincial government number games when it comes to building schools. "When government decides to build a school and set the expenses for it, the school is too small right at the start," Rulka explains, because the government won't take future growth of the student population into account.