PE Student Numbers Drop

Published 4:03 pm Thursday, January 3, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD – The number of Prince Edward County School students has declined steadily in recent years and its impact has been felt on the budgeting and staffing front.

With fewer students, there just isn't as much state funding.

The issue of an initial decline this year and trend in enrollment, touched on in recent meetings, resurfaced at the school board's December meeting.

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County School Board member Dr. Lawrence Varner-who had brought the issue up at previous meetings-noted they had discussed it some at lunch, but that he thinks they need to have a public discussion about the trend in enrollment.

Asked further about the issue, Dr. Varner highlighted the initial decline in enrollment this year.

“David (Superintendent Dr. David Smith) and I have already talked and I'm satisfied, but I think the public needs to know,” Dr. Varner said.

The issue has been scheduled for the January 9 board meeting.

The number of Prince Edward students from kindergarten through 12th dipped from 2,221 in August to 2,208 in September. It rose to 2,215 in October, then fell to 2,210 in November. The school board has based their current budget on an average daily membership of 2,270.

A monthly report in the school board's packet of K-12 membership totaled on the last day of the month dating to September of the 1992-93 school year (when there were 2,595) shows a peak of 2,760 students in September of the 2003-04 school year.

Other school opening totals since that year were 2,671 in 2004-05; 2,604 in '05-06, 2,630 in '06-07, 2,512 in '07-08, 2,464 in '08-09; 2,523 in '09-10; 2,409 in '10-11, and 2,294 in '11-12.

The issue of declining enrollment was also addressed in the public comment portion of the meeting.

“…I've heard the topic come up twice,” Frank Early commented. “Student enrollment is dropping. I haven't gotten an answer. I think Dr. Varner asked last meeting. I didn't hear anything said about it.”

The attendance/enrollment update is on a list of informational items scheduled on the board's agenda next week.