District 281 enrollment trends forecast: stable

District 281 logoEnrollment trends in District 281 indicate that the next four years could see less than a 1 percent variance in the total number of students.
Dennis Beekman, the district’s executive director of technology, presented information on 2012-2013 enrollment trends and projections during the Jan. 22 District 281 School Board meeting. Next year’s forecasts, he said, call for a slight decrease in student population (currently at 11,720) due to a smaller incoming kindergarten class than was enrolled this year.
Last year’s population estimate was 11,734 students. The total number of school-aged children in the district has declined 6 percent since 2003.
“When we start analyzing factors for decline or growth, for the last 10 years, the largest single factor has been less resident students in our school district,” Beekman said. “The capture rate has changed … it’s trended downward. In the last couple of years, we have been chipping away at that.”
More than 71 percent of students living in the district attend district schools. This number is down from 78 percent in 2003, which is due, Beekman said, to the decline of school-aged kids living within the district itself. Last year saw a 0.7 percent increase, which was the second consecutive year that the percentage increased.
The number of residents attending other public schools increased 38 percent 2005-2012, with charter schools’ enrolling nearly 700 District 281 residents since 2003. Open enrollment to other districts has increased 65 percent in the last decade, with the majority of students going to Hopkins and Osseo schools, Beekman said.
Open enrollments to Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center and Wayzata schools have been declining over the last three years.
Beekman noted that more than 90 percent of 1,320 student applications to open enroll elsewhere have been approved.
The number of nonresidents attending Robbinsdale schools has increased 26 percent since 2009. More than 85 percent of those non-residents come from the Osseo or Minneapolis school district.
This year’s retention rates are higher than in past years at all levels. More students are enrolled at the elementary level now than the total between 2008-2010. Enrollment at the high school level is down from last year but up from totals in 2009 and 2010. Beekman said that the retention rate this year at Cooper High School was “as good as I have seen in 10 years.”
Beekman forecast that the district’s overall student totals would vary between -0.6 and -0.2 percent until 2017. To put that in perspective, 2017’s total estimated student population of 11,544 is 176 fewer than the 2012 population.
In other actions during its Jan. 22 meeting, the District 281 School Board also:
• Received a report on general fund revenue assumptions from Executive Director of Business Service Jeff Priess. Priess said the district is forecasting an estimated $52 (1 percent) increase of in per-pupil funding from the state for next school year. The total amount expected to be received from the state is $75.2 million, which serves as the district’s primary source of funding.
The revenue assumptions report showed no changes to the district’s current teacher-student staffing ratios, which call for 18-25 students per kindergarten class through 27 students in each high school class.
• Received an outline of administrative changes that could be made by the end of the year with the retirement of Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Gayle Walkowiak. The titles and duties of Executive Director for Educational Services Lori Simon will change July 1 to executive director of academics and elementary schools.
Cooper principal Michael Favor will assume the duties of executive director of student services and secondary schools, and the district will also create a curriculum and instruction program director position.
“We will reduce or eliminate some positions so that this reorganization will be cost-neutral or will result in slight savings for the school district,” Sicoli said.
More details about the reorganization will be available this spring.

Contact Joseph Palmersheim at joseph.palmersheim@ecm-inc.com

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