Schools across Hampton Roads could take a financial hit because of decrease in enrollment
School divisions in Hampton Roads have lost thousands of students over the past five years. Student enrollment is linked to state funding.
Author: Dana Smith
Published: 8:21 PM EDT May 30, 2022
Updated: 8:41 PM EDT May 30, 2022
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – School divisions in Hampton Roads have lost thousands of students over the past five years and those dropping student enrollment numbers mean your child’s school could take a financial hit.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said losing students is a big problem for school divisions. How many students are in the classroom is linked to how many dollars schools get in funding.
“We peaked in Virginia Beach at about 77,000 students in the 90s, and we’ve been in a downward trend since then,” Or. Spence said. “At the state level, enrollment is directly associated with funding.”
In Virginia Beach, enrollment dropped from nearly 69,000 students in 2017 to just over 65,000, this year.
Other schools in Hampton Roads also saw drops. There might have been times when enrollment was higher than the year before, like in Chesapeake, but enrollment is on a downward trend, according to data from the Virginia Department of Education.
Spence said the pandemic hasn’t made things easier but there are a lot of other issues at play.
“A lot of people want to say it’s the pandemic or some other things, but really the enrollment trends in Virginia Beach are driven, quite frankly, by birthrate,” Dr. Spence explained.
A declining birthrate combined with an aging population and not enough affordable housing for younger families to move in, mean fewer students in schools.
Dr. Spence said a loss of even 100 students can have a big financial hit of $4 to $7 million. A loss like that can affect everyone in the school division.
“What we end up with is larger class sizes,” Dr. Spence said. “We have situations where we might not have enough first-grade teachers in a building.”
Less funding can also mean lower salaries for teachers and staff.
He said the enrollment trends are concerning, especially considering what funding could look like in the future. But for right now, he said state leaders are promising continued investments in education.
“It’s kind of a good-news bad-news mix,” he said .
- Student enrollment in Norfolk dropped from 30,776 in 2017-2018 to 27,478 in 2021-2022.
- Student enrollment in Newport News dropped from 28,682 in 2017-2018 to 26,677 in 2021-2022.
- Student enrollment in Portsmouth dropped from 14,339 in 2017-2018 to 13,517 in 2021-2022.
- Student enrollment in Hampton dropped from 19,911 in 2017-2018 to 19,619 in 2021-2022.
- Student enrollment in Chesapeake dropped from 40,656 in 2017-2018 to 40,478 in 2021-2022.
- Student enrollment in Suffolk dropped from 14,359 in 2017-2018 to 14,048 in 2021-2022.
- Student enrollment in Virginia Beach dropped from 68,986 in 2017-2018 to 65,498 in 2021-2022.