Approximately 45,000 households entrust their most precious possessions – more than 63,000 children – to Chesterfield County Public Schools daily.
Strong academic performance, a variety of course selections and outstanding teachers, support staff and administrators continue to drive family interest in Chesterfield County Public Schools. The reputation of the county’s schools often inspires families to make their homes in Chesterfield.
“We’re excited to be a first-choice school division for parents,” Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said.
Given recent student enrollment counts, more people than ever want their child to attend Chesterfield County Public Schools. Over the past four school years, Chesterfield County Public Schools’ K-12 student enrollment has grown by approximately 2,800 students. When pre-kindergarten students are included in the total, the school division crossed the 63,000-student mark for the first time last week. That places Chesterfield County Public Schools among the 70 largest school divisions in the country; the school division is the fifth largest in Virginia.
Student enrollment growth is not projected to slow down. Based on enrollment trends and new construction, the Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget is built on a projection of 1,235 additional students attending school in Chesterfield County next year.
“With growth comes a lot of opportunity,” Dr. Daugherty said. “However, there must be resources to support this growth. The operating budget proposed for the 2020-21 school year provides nearly $8 million in additional school-based staff members to support this projected growth. That total funding is equivalent to what the county has allocated for the school division in its approved five-year plan. That would leave us with little funding left to invest in our students and staff.”
Projections prepared for Chesterfield County Public Schools in 2018 by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service showed a projected total K-12 student enrollment of close to 70,000 students within the next nine years. Unfortunately, Weldon Cooper’s projection for the 2019-20 school year is already off; there currently are 1,400 more students enrolled in Chesterfield County Public Schools than projected for 2019- 20.
“Sometimes we look at our own neighborhoods and what is immediately around us, and we forget just how large we are as a county and as a school division,” Daugherty said. “If you look at us like we’re a business, we’d be considered a Fortune 500-size operation and one of the largest businesses in the Richmond-metro area. A large operation requires a lot of resources.”
“Chesterfield County Public Schools continues to be cited as a model for excellence in public education; however, there are cracks beginning to show,” Dr. Daugherty said. “In order for us to continue to be a school division that parents want their children to attend, we must continue to invest in the necessary resources. We are people-intensive business: A lot of adults serving a lot of students. The proposed budget allows us to cover the cost of doing business to more students in 2020.”
To learn more about the Superintendent’s proposed FY 21 operating budget, visit mychesterfieldschools.com.