CHIPLEY -- Student enrollment will continue to tumble.

According to Pat Collins, Director of Administrative Services at Washington County School District, Florida Department of Education projects enrollment will decrease by up to 85 students in the upcoming school year.

"So they're still anticipating that we will decrease some in our students," Collins told School Board members Monday during a regular meeting.

"It is very concerning," Superintendent Joseph Taylor said. "We have lost several hundred over the past five or six years."

With fewer students, less funding will be available to operate the school district.

In the past months, enrollment numbers appeared to show some stability. However, Collins reminded the board that this school year the legislature has combined an additional 126 students from Department of Juvenile Justice in Okeechobee with the district's regular student population.

"The count may look way up, but it's DJJ," Taylor commented to board members. "We're paid upon what we submit and our projections are submitting bringing the Hope School students back."

In December last year, the School Board discussed plans to bring back nine exceptional student education (ESE) students from the Marianna school by housing an ESE program at one the district's regular education schools. The reorganization is expected to be implemented as early as summer.

Although DOE projects a decrease by up to 85, Taylor added, "that's not our projections." With the Hope School students, he said, district student enrollment projections are higher.

In other business, the School Board held a workshop prior to its regular meeting, at which the board approved the old Kate M. Smith conceptual design.

Washington County School Board meetings are held 5 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at the district's headquarters, 652 N. Third St.