Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Schools Could Lose 800 Students; Decline Is Now Statewide Trend

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Schools Could Lose 800 Students; Decline Is Now Statewide Trend

Article excerpt

Byline: TOPHER SANDERS

Duval County Public Schools is projected to lose about 800 full-time students when the 2010-11 school year starts, continuing a five-year slide that matches the statewide trend.

Full-time equivalent enrollment is expected to dip from the current 123,876 to 123,079 in August, district officials said.

The district has been losing about 1,000 students a year since enrollment peaked in 2004-05 at 127,700. Statewide, public schools have lost about 40,000 full-time equivalent students since 2005.

But elsewhere in Northeast Florida, there's better news, with most districts expecting slight enrollment increases. The state is projecting a bigger bump for St. Johns, with a gain of 600 students next school year.

Duval's enrollment dip would cost the district about $2.4 million in revenue, putting further stress on a cash-strapped school system.

"Declining enrollment is difficult the more drastic the drop," said Mike Perrone, Duval's chief financial officer. "These [projections] are not that bad."

The district may have fewer students, but teaching positions are still being added because of demands imposed statewide under the class-size amendment.

But Perrone said it's important for the district to stem the decline because the district still has to pay overhead cost for facilities that could become underused if declines worsen.

District officials don't know exactly why enrollment is declining but a mobile population, downsizing of military personnel at Mayport and a declining population of school-age children have contributed, said Perrone and Jill Johnson, the district's spokeswoman. …

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