Jul 9, 2010

Public School Enrollment to Increase in Virginia

Enrollments in Virginia’s public schools are expected to grow by 4 percent over the next five years. Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudoun counties will account for 85 percent of the growth, which will be countered by enrollment losses in 53 school districts mostly in Southside and southwest Virginia.

According to a University of Virginia study, a record 1.21 million students attended the Commonwealth’s public schools in 2009-10. Projections for the next five years show that about 50,000 more students will be enrolled by 2014-15, with elementary grades shouldering two-thirds of the increase.

The report from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service also included high school graduation projections. Not surprisingly, increasing total enrollment has resulted in higher numbers of students finishing high school throughout the state.

In fact, an all-time record of 88,624 graduated from Virginia's public high schools this year. School divisions with particularly large numbers of graduates are located in the state’s three largest metropolitan areas—northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Roads.

Future graduating classes will continue to grow and set new records through 2011-12, when 89,219 students are projected to finish high school. After that, the number of graduates will begin to decline and fall to 86,101 in 2014-15.

“The large K-5 grade enrollment growth between now and 2014-12, along with the relatively small increase in grades 9-12, sets the stage for this anticipated decline, which will be gradual and temporary,” said U.Va. demographer Michael Spar.

Virginia’s public high schools will get a breather between 2012 and 15. But after that, all those elementary school kids, particularly in the northern part of the state, will make their way through the system and reach college age.

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