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District 196 enrollment up from last year, but not back to pre-COVID-19 levels

After declining slightly last year due to family choices related to COVID-19, District 196 enrollment is up 78 students (0.27 percent) this year to 29,086 total students, according to the Oct. 1, 2021 enrollment count presented at the Oct. 11 School Board meeting.

The district submitted its official Oct. 1 enrollment report to the Minnesota Department of Education. The state uses the Oct. 1 count to determine some of the funding school districts receive from the state and the district uses the numbers to make final budget and staffing allocations to schools.

District enrollment hit an all-time high of 29,233 students two years ago in October 2019. Enrollment had increased for seven years straight until October 2020, when it decreased by 215 students (0.74 percent). Some families chose to keep kindergarten-eligible students out of school last year and some chose education alternatives like private schools and homeschooling. Although not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, Director of Finance and Operations Mark Stotts told the School Board the district’s tax base is growing, housing is growing and more families are moving into the district.

“We do still project growth in the district,” Stotts said. “If you look at it from a statewide perspective or even a nationwide perspective, our enrollment is up while a lot of districts are still down. The reputation this district has built over the years and the fact that families have indicated it is a place they want to be for the education of their students, I think we are in a really good position going forward.”

The largest class in the district this year is grade 9, with 2,367 students, and the smallest is grade1, with 1,880 students.  The breakdown by level shows that on Oct. 1, 2021, the district had:

  • 11,968 elementary school students (grades K-5), an increase of 47 students from last year;
  • 6,437 middle school students (grades 6-8), a decrease of 130;
  • 9,150 high school students (grades 9-12), an increase of 172;
  • 1,085 students in center-based special education programs, an increase of 15, and
  • 446 students in early childhood special education, a decrease of 26 students from last year.

Students of color represent 41 percent of total enrollment, up 1 percent from last year and 5 percent higher than the state average last year. Fifty-eight-point-six percent of students are White, 14.2 percent Black, 10.9 percent Hispanic, 8.2 percent Asian, 7.6 percent two or more races, 0.4 percent American Indian, and 0.1 percent Pacific Islander.

Students who qualify to receive English Learner (EL) services represent 7.6 percent of total enrollment, down from 8 percent last year and slightly less than the 8.4 percent state average.