Nearly 2,500 fewer students are enrolled in Prince William County Public Schools than a year ago, according to data from the school division.
If the numbers maintain, it would mark the first time in many years that enrollment in the school system has declined. Public school systems are required to report fall enrollment figures to the Virginia Department of Education on Sept. 30 every year.
The latest count shows Prince William with 89,076 students enrolled this fall. That’s down from 91,524 a year ago, a 2.6% decline, and School Board Chair Babur Lateef says it’s about 3,000 fewer students than the system budgeted.
“Those enrollment numbers, we hope, are temporary due to the pandemic,” Lateef said this week. Indeed, although the state education department has not released the fall enrollment figures yet, reports from other areas of the state indicate fewer students are attending public schools as parents turn to private schools or homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decline in enrollment could mean that the school system would receive $15.9 million less in state funds, which are allocated based on the numbers of students. However, Lateef said he expects the General Assembly may help local school systems close that funding gap.
The city of Manassas school system reported a fall enrollment of 7,607, down from 7,789 a year ago, according to state data. Information from the Manassas Park public school system was not available. Last fall, Manassas Park had 3,640 enrolled students, according to the state.