Washington County school enrollment remains steady

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Florida Department of Education expects Washington County Schools to lose 50 students per year over the next five years.

Washington County Schools have lost just over 250 students since the spring of 2009, but officials say the rate at which the enrollment number is dropping has slowed in recent years.

From September 2016 to November 2017, the school district's enrollment has gone down by only 10 students. Officials say that's an improvement over past years.

They attribute that decline to several different factors, one of those being students going to school out of county.

Under the open enrollment policy, students can choose the school they attend. For many, Washington County schools are too far away.

"We do have some of that in our county, where students live in the far areas of Washington County and they choose to go to Bonifay School and we have a few that go up to Jackson County, very few that go to Bay County Schools," Director of Administrative Services Pat Collins said.

Officials say kindergarten numbers have been down in recent years.

"I think this year, we're probably down as many as 20 students at both Vernon Elementary School and Kate Smith Elementary School, but overall our enrollment is pretty stable right now," Collins said.

Officials say they hope the recent addition of four new VPK classes will help boost the number of younger students.

There are currently two classes at Kate Smith Elementary and two at Vernon Elementary.