Minnesota public school enrollment drops for 4th consecutive year

Enrollment in Minnesota’s public schools has declined again, according to data recently uploaded by the Minnesota Department of Education.

For the 2023-24 school year, public schools lost roughly 0.2 percent of K-12 students — 1,425 — from the previous year. Nonpublic enrollment ticked up just under 1 percent; homeschool enrollment increased 10 percent.

While the public school enrollment decline is not as steep as it was during COVID-19, it marks the fourth consecutive year public schools have lost numerous students.

Since the start of the 2019-20 school year (before COVID hit), Minnesota public school enrollment has dropped about 2.7 percent, or 23,232 K-12 students.

The most recent statewide drop was largely driven by enrollment declines in the Minneapolis school district (which lost over 300 students) and the St. Paul school district (which lost over 250 students).

Shrinking enrollment has plagued the Minneapolis school district for at least a quarter century. District staff are working on boosting enrollment through targeted marketing efforts that include “mailed information, billboards and video messages that play at gas station pumps across the city, attending community events and parades.” In fall 2022, the St. Paul school district launched a two-year $300,000 marketing campaign to try and reverse declining enrollment.

As of spring 2023 data, the majority of Minnesota students aren’t meeting reading or math standards.