In MCPS, more students are choosing to withdraw from its schools
On Sept. 30, 2019, MCPS had 165,267 students enrolled in its school system, following several years of growing enrollment. Yet as of October 22, 2020, MCPS has suffered an enrollment drop of 3,700 students. This drop in enrollment was based in Kindergarten and Pre-K, whose enrollment rates decreased at the highest rates. Many appear to be choosing instead to receive a private or homeschool education.
From July 1, 2019 to Sept. 16, 2019, 51 students total withdrew from MCPS to instead receive homeschooling, and 129 students withdrew to instead attend a Maryland nonpublic school not located in Montgomery County. During the same time period in 2020, 984 students withdrew from MCPS to receive homeschooling and 950 students opted to withdraw from MCPS to attend nonpublic schools not located in Montgomery County.
Blair principal Renay Johnson said she believes that this drop in enrollment is based in the younger grades. “I think most parents are thinking, ‘My child’s first experience [with education] will not be online.’ They may select a private school that has in-person kindergarten, or they may waive the first year," Johnson said. “A lot of families, they want in-person learning for their elementary aged students."
President of the MCPS Board of Education Shebra Evans said that the board had always been expecting some kind of drop. “Prior to COVID, we were predicting that our numbers this upcoming fall would not be the same as we had seen traditionally...but we attribute some of that to our international numbers going down” due to concern regarding federal policies, Evans said. Evans also explained that enrollment numbers do fluctuate at the beginning of the school year, so it’s possible that they could go up slightly.
However, Evans concurred with Johnson that this drop may be due to Pre-K and Kindergarten students. “There are some parents that are possibly not sending their Pre-K and Kindergarten students because this is a virtual world, it’s a little bit different,” Evans said.
Valerie Grussing is one of those parents. Even though she is a firm believer in public education for her children and under most circumstances would not send them to a private school, Grussing has decided to send her Kindergarten-age son to a private school. “It was a really difficult decision not to go that route, but we just felt like we didn’t have any other choice for our family, for both of us to be able to keep our jobs and for all of us to be able to keep our sanity,” Grussing said.
Johnson also noted that while these lower grade levels may be suffering from enrollment drops, enrollment drops at the high school level are extremely low. In fact, according to information from earlier in the year, the overall MCPS enrollment for grades 9-12 actually increased from the 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 school year by 0.38%.
Regardless of the format MCPS schools have taken, Evans reiterated that MCPS priorities have not changed since entering the virtual environment and that MCPS is doing everything they can to support parents and students during this difficult time. “We’re really trying to make certain that we can help as many kids as we can through this virtual environment,” she said.
Luke Sanelli. Hi, I'm Luke Sanelli, and I'm a writer for Silver Chips Online. I enjoy to watch TV with my family and play video games in my free time. I'm also a major Buffalo Bills fan and baseball cap fanatic. More »