As enrollment declines, Southampton may see revenue shortfall

Published 1:21 pm Saturday, February 21, 2015

Over the past 20 years, the total student enrollment in Virginia’s public school system has grown steadily as the overall population has increased in specific localities —most notably in the Northern Virginia metro area and around the state capital. In the rest of the state, however, student admission has slowly declined.

In spite of its rural whereabouts, the Southampton Public School District defied that trend until this year. Enrollment had increased by as much as five percent from 2008 to 2013, but also has seen a decline of nearly 120 students from last year.

When the school budget was assessed last spring, the projected revenue was based on the Virginia Department of Educations total enrollment projection ­— or average daily membership — of 2,721 students within the school district. With such a population, the school would pull in more than $18.2 million in state revenue.

However, the latest data shows an average daily membership of only 2,607 students, 114 fewer than had been projected. This, according to the board of supervisors, translates to a revenue shortfall of 5.12 percent, or $934,097 less than expected.

Even further, the department of education predicts that daily membership will continue to decline at Southampton. With only 2,537 students expected to roam the halls in 2016, the total revenue may fall by 6.69 percent.

The school administration was not available for comment on Friday afternoon, as offices have been closed this week due to the inclement weather. The school’s monthly budget meeting was canceled earlier this week, as well. However, the matter is on the agenda and will be discussed at Monday evening’s board of supervisors meeting.

School superintendent Dr. Alvera J. Parrish is expected to be in attendance, as she will be working closely with the board until the budget is ironed out for the 2015-2016 school year. Although the board of supervisors monitor the situation closely, it is ultimately up to the school board to decide where to reduce expenditures from year-to-year.

County administrator Michael W. Johnson said that Dr. Parrish and the school board have assured the county that the shortfall was not expected, and that they’ve throttled their spending this year to compensate for it. To his understanding, much of the revenue shortfall has been — or will be — absorbed by the school’s decision to not fill vacant positions.

“The impact (of the expected shortfall) in Fiscal Year 2016 will be a major part of the budget discussion over the next 90 days,” Johnson said.

The board of supervisors will also vote on a resolution on Monday in order to appropriate $127,388.06 in revenue from various grants and programs to the Southampton Public School District.