Loudoun won’t be one of the fastest growing school systems this year. In fact, it looks like enrollment will decline for the first time in decades.
According to preliminary tallies presented to the School Board last week, only 81,660 students had enrolled as of Sept. 21. That’s nearly 5% below the projections of 85,755.
More significantly, that is 2,515 fewer students than were enrolled last September.
The lower figure is an indication of the number of families opting out of the division’s period of distance learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That was an unofficial number. Today, the enrollment counts.
The Sept. 30 student tally—the average daily membership—is used in the calculation of state funding this year.
Typically, more students result in more financial support. The School Board is taking steps to ensure that the opposite isn’t true in this unprecedented year.
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Financial Services Sharon Willoughby said the declines appear to be a statewide trend this fall.
“Ultimately, we’re looking at a potentially significant revenue shortfall,” she told the School Board last week. She noted that some states have already enacted hold-harmless policies, but in others school districts have turned to layoffs. “This is a significant impact to our finances this year. We are hearing that there is discussion occurring in Richmond and we want to support that along with the other divisions in the state.”
Superintendent Eric Williams said that even with less state funding, layoffs would not be expected in Loudoun.
The board has formally requested that the state use 2019-20 enrollment figures if they are larger than the 2020-21 tallies.