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Decrease in enrollment impacts Rockingham County Public Schools budget

Less students enrolled means less money the county has for expenses.
Less students enrolled means less money the county has for expenses.(whsv)
Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 7:45 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Rockingham County Public schools have seen a drop in enrollment by more than 400 students this year and it’s impacted the money the school division receives from the state by about two million dollars.

Some parents have transferred their children to private schools while others choose to home school them. Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl said families have made these choices before, but since the pandemic some want to wait until it’s safe to return.

Scheikl said changing funding in the middle of the school year is hard because enrollment numbers could change if there is a vaccine.

“It’s not something to plan for when you really don’t know what’s gonna happen. So, for next year, you know, we’ll have to work through our budget process and look at where we are, but the budget impact we’ve seen is certainly significant," Scheikl said. "I also understand the choices every family makes the education choice for their child.”

The Rockingham County School Board is working with the commonwealth to keep their budget. Scheikl said they have looked at where they can hold off on expenses like certain projects. Scheikl said they still need plenty of funding.

“If we need to be safe by distancing at six feet then that’s not something we can really adjust and that doesn’t reduce our expense," he said. "In fact, our expense this year has been significantly higher, and when it comes to health and safety expenses for example.”

He also said a vast majority of expenses are in personnel, including teachers and behavioral and mental health staff.

“We’re even looking at 100,000 infections across the country per day and 240,000 people having died, you know that creates anxiety in families where someone is at high risk, right? It creates anxiety because students aren’t in their regular environment.”

He expects to see students return once there is a vaccine for COVID-19.

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