Enrollment declined more than 2% in Minnesota’s public schools

    Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images from a high school classroom in Berlin, Germany, August 2020.

    Enrollment is down more than 2% in Minnesota’s public schools, according to newly released data from the Minnesota Department of Education.

    On Oct. 1, 872,083 Minnesota students were enrolled in public schools, a decline of more than 21,000 students from fall 2019. The decrease mirrors national trends, after families frustrated with distance learning or concerned about COVID-19 pulled their children from public schools. They opted instead for homeschooling, private schools or delaying schooling for kindergarteners.

    Dwindling enrollment could create financial challenges for schools, since the bulk of state funding is sent to schools based on how many students they enroll.

    For many districts, the declines this fall were even more dramatic than anticipated in the spring — when schools set their budgets for the next school year — leaving cash-strapped school systems to address unexpected shortfalls mid-year. Gov. Tim Walz has proposed a $25 million package for school districts to mitigate the financial effects of enrollment declines this year.

    Here’s more from the 2020-21 school year enrollment data.

    Rilyn Eischens
    Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.