New data show that Minnesota’s public school enrollment is down a significant amount of students compared to pre-COVID numbers.
Federal data published by The 74 reveals that Minnesota’s public school enrollment in grades K-12 dropped 2.36% from the 2019-2020 to the 2020-2021 school years.
The 2.36% decrease equates to about 17,000 students. Of this, about 6,000 of the student decrease comes from kindergarteners alone. The next notable grade decrease is sixth grade, which lost about 2,800 students.
Despite the decrease in public school enrollment, Minnesota state lawmakers recently agreed on a $525 million education funding boost, which includes a 2.4% increase in per-pupil funding for the 2021-2022 school year.
They also extended funding for voluntary pre-kindergarten for at least two more years. E-12 education constitutes the second largest portion of the Minnesota budget, behind Health and Human Services.
The top four largest school districts in the state are Anoka-Hennepin, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley. Anoka-Hennepin lost about 2,000 total students, compared to just about 250 from Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley, according to data from the Department of Education.
Simultaneously, homeschooling in Minnesota has more than doubled between the 2019-2020 and the 2020-2021 school years, jumping from 4.6% to 9.7%.
Minnesota ranked 23rd in the nation for its drop in public school enrollment. Overall, the United States saw about 1.5 million students leave the public school system last year.
This information comes as students, parents, and teachers alike have begun speaking up at local school board meetings, expressing their concerns with equity education.
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.