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Editorial: Enrollment decline stems from other issues

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The Herald Dispatch

Enrollment in West Virginia public schools declined by 4,120 students between last school year and this one. It wasn’t an isolated event. Enrollment has been falling in most counties for more than a decade.

This trend does not bode well for West Virginia.

As with many things involving statistics, it’s not just the aggregate number that people need to look at but also the distribution of numbers. Not surprisingly, at least three counties have seen their enrollments increase while most counties have seen decreases.

From the fall 2009 headcount to fall 2019, overall enrollment in the state’s public schools has decreased by 20,195, or about 7.2%. In the four counties of the Metro Valley area — Wayne, Cabell, Putnam and Kanawha — it’s gone down at a slightly higher rate — 7.7%.

If you group five southern coal counties — Boone, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan and McDowell — you find an enrollment decline of 3,818, or about 16.2%.

Meanwhile, just as Monongalia and Berkeley counties have been the leaders in overall population increase in the state since the 2010 census, so too have they seen enrollment increases. Monongalia County, helped by rapid growth in part due to West Virginia University, has seen its public school enrollment increase by 10.8 percent in the past decade to 11,589 students.

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