Thousands of children across Montreal head back to school today, but the English Montreal School Board says student enrolment is down.

When the EMSB was first established in 1998, the board oversaw about 25,000 students.

But spokesman Michael Cohen says he expects this year's numbers will drop below 20,000 for the first time.

Cohen says he’s concerned about the consequences for student resources and programming.

"When our numbers go low, it affects our budget, and if we have less money, there’s less money to go around to the different schools and our students and to our educational programs," he says.

According to Cohen, the decline is out of the EMSB’s control. He blames the low enrolment numbers on language laws introduced over the years.

"It’s frustrating, but we’re trying to work our way out of it. We do see a light at the end of the tunnel and in the next couple of years, we’re hoping those numbers will go back up," he said.