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Enrollment in MN public schools down 2% this year due to COVID

Families chose other schooling options amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public schools in Minnesota saw a 2% decrease in enrollment in the 2020-2021 school year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

That's according to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), which on Friday released its enrollment data for the current school year. 

MDE says the 2% decrease in enrollment is about 17,000 students. Each student generates about $10,164 in general education revenue. 

“COVID-19 has already robbed our students of so many milestones that make school memorable,” MDE Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker said in a statement. “Now, our schools are potentially facing a huge loss in funding and resources, which will mean schools faced with eliminating learning opportunities and experiences for our students, especially students who need them most."

"We have hope that our public school enrollment will rebound as Minnesota recovers from the pandemic. Until then, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure our public school systems are providing our students the education they need and deserve," Ricker said. 

MDE notes that Gov. Tim Walz's education budget includes a proposal for a one-time increase in general fund resources for declining enrollment revenue in an effort to limit the pandemic's impact on school funding.

Decline comes from youngest learners

MDE says the decrease in student enrollment this year is largely due to families choosing not to send their child to public school kindergarten this year, with a 9% drop in public kindergarten enrollment this year compared to last year. 

Meanwhile, there was an increase in young learners going to nonpublic kindergarten, with those schools seeing a 12.4% increase in enrollment this year compared to last year. 

MDE says the most significant increase came in students being homeschooled, with a 49.5% increase from last year to this year. 

The majority of the decline in public school enrollment came from white students, with about 20,000 students or 3.7% decrease in white students attending public school.

The data MDE shared is based on enrollment data as of Oct. 1, 2020. This data is available on MDE's website here and here

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