Jun 6, 2022 - News

Minnesota public school enrollment declines

Data: American Enterprise Institute; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

In the two years since the pandemic hit, Minnesota's public schools have lost 2.55% of their students.

  • Minnesota's enrollment decline ranked as the 26th steepest out of 46 states that had data available, according to a national survey by the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College.

Why it matters: School funding is tied directly to enrollment and continued loss could have long-term consequences, such as potentially forcing some schools to close permanently, Axios' Erin Doherty reports.

Zoom in: Enrollment changes varied depending on the district.

  • Minneapolis Public Schools saw the steepest decline, losing 4,300 students, or 15% of its pre-pandemic enrollment.
  • St. Paul (6.7%), Burnsville (8.5%) and Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose (9.7%) also saw big declines. The state's largest district, Anoka-Hennepin, lost 1.8% of enrollment.

The other side: Some public school districts bucked the trend and saw increases, including Hopkins (1.5%), Lakeville (0.9%) and Edina (0.4%).

By the numbers: Districts across the country with the most remote classes lost 4.4% of their students, compared with a 1.1% drop for those that mostly held school in person, according to the survey.

Between the lines: The survey suggests that families who are frustrated with remote learning and other pandemic-related difficulties are likely to toggle their children to other options like charter schools, private schools, or homeschooling.

Reality check: Minneapolis went remote for two stints during the pandemic, but that doesn't tell the whole story. The district also redrew school boundaries in 2020 and had a three-week teacher strike, the effects of which won't be known until next school year.

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