Minnesota public school enrollment drops for 3rd consecutive year

The number of students enrolled in Minnesota’s traditional public schools is down, while private school and charter school enrollment has increased, according to data recently released by the Minnesota Department of Education.

In the 2022-23 school year, public schools lost roughly 0.3 percent of students — or about 2,427 — since 2021-22. While the decline is not as steep as it was during COVID-19, it marks the third consecutive year the state’s public school system has lost thousands of students. Private school and charter school enrollment increased 3.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. Homeschooling decreased 5 percent.

The successive public school enrollment decline continues to suggest that the many families who turned to private schools because of school closures, mask mandates, and curricula concerns, to name a few, are satisfied with their new learning environment and likely aren’t returning to a district classroom.

The Saint Paul Public Schools district launched a two-year marketing campaign last fall to reverse its declining enrollment. Families have been steadily leaving the district for the last decade.

According to the Star Tribune, district leaders across the state “are working to bolster enrollment by better promoting offerings such as immersion programs and language courses, Advanced Placement and career courses and expanded opportunities for early learners.”

But district leaders should also realize that advertising all they have to offer won’t be enough to draw families in if at minimum classrooms remain unsafe and a quality education is left to be desired.