Prince George’s County Public Schools have lost an average of 1,000 students a year for the last eight years, and the number of low-income students has steadily increased, according to a news report.
The decline is the largest in any school district in the Washington region, according to The Washington Post, which cites most school districts in Northern Virginia and Maryland as having continued enrollment increases.
Officials said that factors contributing to the declines include foreclosures, where the county leads the state, competition from private and religious schools, and negative perceptions of the school system, as well as a decline in the number of school-age children in the county.
Percentage gains within the school system have come from lower income students. Since 2008, the number of students that qualify for free and reduced-price meals has increased from 56,000 to 67,000.
It remains unclear how the decline could affect funding for county schools from the state, which takes school enrollment and population into account.
School Superintendent William R. Hite told the Post that the school system needs to do a better job of engaging parents.
“Individuals are going to engage with a system that they see is effective, one that is providing a high level of service, efficient and well-run,” Hite said. “We have to produce results that show we are tackling problems that have historically been attached to this district around achievement.”