It may not be as high as school officials had projected, but Arlington’s student population has now overtaken the previous all-time record, set during the heart of the Baby Boom generation.
Arlington Public Schools officials submitted an official 2017-18 count of 26,927 students to the Virginia Department of Education, based on the number of youngsters in class on Sept. 30.
The official count was up 789 students – 3 percent – from a year before, and has now risen 27 percent since the 2010-11 school year.
And it has now surpassed the previous record of 26,927 students in 1963.
The official count, submitted annually to state officials by all of Virginia’s school districts, is “the basis for budget planning and planning for next year’s projections,” Superintendent Patrick Murphy said at the Oct. 5 School Board meeting.
While now at a record high, the enrollment count was below what had been anticipated. “We had projected over 27,000,” Murphy said. The school system could still get there this year, as “we will ebb and flow throughout the year,” he said.
Compared to 2016-17, total enrollment was up 2.8 percent at the elementary-school level, 4 percent at the middle-school level and 2.6 percent at the high-school level, school officials said. The bubble in the middle-school ranks had been expected, as the growth spurt has been moving through elementary schools in recent years.
Arlington school leaders are relatively confident that the growth will continue, eventually pushing the district past 30,000 students. Even so, Arlington has a smaller percentage of households with school-age children, compared to surrounding jurisdictions.