Minneapolis Public Schools is reporting an official enrollment count for 2022-23 school year of 28,473, down 1,107 students, or 3.7%, since fall of 2021.

The district had previously predicted an enrollment decline of 1.9% this year, as part of its November 2021 pro forma, and a decline of 3.5% as part of its budget for the 2022-23 school year passed in June 2022. In the 2019-2020 school year, prior to the pandemic, the district had an enrollment of 33,593. The following year enrollment declined by 4.7%. In 2021, the first year of the Comprehensive District Design implementation, enrollment declined by an additional 7.6%.

Total K-12 enrollment reported to Minnesota Department of Education

Source: Minneapolis Public Schools data

St. Paul Public Schools also saw an enrollment decline since the pandemic began and closed six schools before the start of this school year. Minneapolis Public Schools has not closed any schools. Currently, the MPS district operates 55 traditional school buildings, with capacity for just under 43,000 students. This includes 38 K-5 elementary schools with capacity for 21,082 students; two K-8 magnet schools with capacity for 2,123 students; eight middle schools with capacity for 6,930 students; and seven traditional high schools with capacity for 12,740 students.

On background, a district official told Southwest Voices that operating schools at 70-85% of their stated capacity is ideal because it leaves space for additional programming in buildings beyond traditional classroom space.

Building Capacity and Enrollment by Grade Format

Note: Data excludes Anishinabe Academy, FAIR, and Heritage Academy because of a lack of building capacity data.Source: Minneapolis Public Schools data on building capacity, budget allocation and enrollment, author’s analysis of data.

Enrollment decline was greatest at the middle school level, with 423 fewer students enrolling in the district’s middle schools this year compared to last year. This decline of 8.1% is in contrast with K-5 elementary schools, where enrollment declined 3.6%, and the traditional high schools, where enrollment fell by just 1%.

Two high schools had an increase in enrollment, Roosevelt by 9% and North by 11%, while enrollment declined at Southwest High School by 11%. One of the objectives of the Comprehensive District Design was to balance enrollment across high schools. The decline in enrollment at Southwest was expected as part of these changes.

Much of the enrollment decline at middle schools happens between fifth and sixth grade. In 2021, there were 2,105 fifth graders enrolled in K-5 and K-8 schools. In 2022, there are 1,794 sixth graders enrolled in K-8 and middle schools, meaning a 14.8% decrease in enrollment of this cohort of students between fifth and sixth grade. This pattern of attrition between fifth and sixth grade existed before the pandemic and the Comprehensive District Design. For example, in 2018 and 2019, sixth grade enrollment was 12% lower than fifth grade enrollment the previous year.

Attrition between fifth and sixth grade is most pronounced in the enrollment zone for Olson Middle School, where there was a decrease of 40% between the number of fifth graders in 2021-22 and sixth graders in 2022-23. Sixth grade enrollment at Northeast Middle School this year exceeds fifth grade enrollment in the community elementary schools the previous year.

Between eighth and ninth grade, the district shows an increase in enrollment, but not as many as the number of students who leave at the transition to middle school. In 2021-22, there were 1,968 eighth graders enrolled in MPS. This fall, there are 2,087 ninth graders enrolled, a 6% increase. Prior to the pandemic and the Comprehensive District Design, the enrollment jump between eighth and ninth grade was not consistent. In 2018, there were 1.5% more ninth grade students than eighth graders the previous year. But in 2019, there were 2.3% fewer ninth grade students than eighth graders the previous year.

Enrollment was down above average at Olson, Northeast, Justice Page and Anthony Middle Schools. The only middle schools to show enrollment increases were Franklin, home to the middle school STEAM magnet program, and Andersen, home to the district’s Spanish immersion magnet program for middle school.

Anishinabe, Armatage, Bancroft, Bryn Mawr, Dowling, Howe, Kenwood, and Webster elementary schools all saw enrollment increases of more than 5%. Ella Baker, Folwell, Hmong International Academy, Lake Harriet Lower and Lake Harriet Upper had enrollment decline by more than 10%.