According to Minnesota Department of Education data, Minneapolis Public Schools enrollment is down 15% since the 2019-20 school year. At the Nov. 14 board meeting, Thom Roethke, director of budget and planning, said most of the recent enrollment drop is because families with children have moved out of Minneapolis. Of the 6,000 students that have left MPS since 2019, just 1,000 are still living in Minneapolis and enrolled at charter schools or in other districts. According to Roethke, district analysis shows that there were 12,000 fewer children living in Minneapolis in 2023 than in 2019. The trend of families with children leaving cities is not unique to Minneapolis.

Enrollment is the primary driver of the district’s budget.  Nearly all of the district’s revenue is linked to enrollment, including State aid and the local property tax levy. Even after including recent State increases in funding, the district expects its total revenue to decline over the next five years as those per student increases are swamped by the loss of students enrolled in the district, according to Roethke. The district expects State funding to increase by about $35 million this year, about $1250 per student. The district spent about $21,000 per student in 2022-23.

The district expects enrollment to continue to decline through the 2028-29 school year, stabilizing around 23,000 students, about 5,000 fewer students than enrolled in the 2023-24 school year and nearly 12,000 fewer students than the district had in 2019. As part of that projection, the district believes that kindergarten cohorts, which were nearly 3,000 students as recently as the 2019-20 school year, have already stabilized around 2,000 students. However, as larger cohorts graduate high school and are replaced by smaller kindergarten cohorts, the district believes total enrollment will continue to decline.

Minneapolis Public Schools educated about 63% of students living within its boundaries who were enrolled in public schools during the 2019-20 school year. By the 2022-23 school year, that proportion was down to 58%. Public school enrollment includes students enrolled in Minneapolis Public Schools, charter schools and students open enrolled into other school districts.

Percentage of students living in Minneapolis enrolled in public schools by type. Data source: Minnesota Department of Education

In the 2019-20 school year, charter schools enrolled about 26% of public school students living in Minneapolis. The share of students enrolled in charter schools has increased about one percentage point per year each year. In the 2022-23 school year, charter schools enrolled about 28% of Minneapolis resident students.

The share of students “open enrolling”, or attending public schools in neighboring districts, was about 12% in 2019-20. Starting in the 2020-21 school year, the share of students open enrolling has increased by about one percentage point per year.

In the 2022-23 school year, 14% of Minneapolis resident students open enrolled into another district. In that same school year, 5,051 students that live in the MPS school boundaries enrolled in a private school, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.  There were also 368 students reported as homeschooling during the 2022-23 school year. This is the first year that the State has data on private school and home school students by the district where students live. This may be an undercount of students in each category because the State can only require data on students between the ages of 7 and 16, which are the compulsory schooling ages for children in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Education data do not show whether students had previously enrolled in MPS schools.

At the same time that data shows fewer children living in Minneapolis, the city and district have faced a number of significant disruptions in recent years, which may have also impacted enrollment in MPS. In 2020, disruptions included extended periods of distance learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and associated civil unrest, and increases in gun violence and property crimes, which spiked in 2021 but have since declined.

The district implemented new attendance boundaries, magnet programs and enrollment policies that forced some students and staff to change schools as part of the Comprehensive District Design in 2021. In 2022, the district closed schools to in-person learning for three weeks in January 2022 because of the Omicron variant, and again in March 2022 for a three week strike by district teachers and educational support professionals.