Mercer County School bus

BDT file photo

TAZEWELL, Va. — Area school systems are once again reporting a drop in student enrollment.

In Mercer County, enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year ended with 8,854 students. The county is beginning the 2019-2020 school year with 8,357 students, School Superintendent Dr. Deborah Akers said Thursday. But she expects that number to increase.

According to Akers, the county is partnered with several pre-kindergarten and Headstart programs and the headcount for those programs has not been included yet. When those numbers are finalized, she said they will be added to the headcount for the final total. 

Once the Headstart and pre-K students have been counted, Akers estimates a loss of approximately 120 students to the total enrollment.

“We’ve had a good start this year,” Akers said. “The kids are back in and the schedules are running. We’ve had some good activities so far.”

Enrollment is also down in Tazewell County.

Chris Stacy, the superintendent of Tazewell County Schools, said the day one headcount for Tazewell County was 5,250 students. This number is down 160 students from last year. Though the number has taken a dive, Stacy expects enrollment to increase in the days ahead.

“For us we will increase through Labor Day,” Stacy said. With some jurisdictions starting the school year on different days, the numbers don’t reach their peak until after Labor Day.

At Tazewell High School, enrollment was up Thursday, according to school principal Jerry Smith.

Smith said the school has had “a dozen or more” students enroll in the past three days.

“Our students have been happy and upbeat,”  Smith, said, “It’s been a very good start to the year.”

As for what the school is looking forward to the most for the year, Smith said, “We want our students to have as much fun as they can in their high school years and to be successful.”

Contact Emily D. Coppola at ecoppola@bdtonline.com

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