Enrollment dip signals need for Legislature to act quickly on education funding

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Feb. 19, 2021 – The public schools of Minnesota will not be able to offer the same quality of education to its students next fall if the state Legislature fails to approve additional funding to compensate for students that parents held back or transferred out during the pandemic, said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. 

“If we’re serious about making sure every child can pursue their dreams regardless of what they look like or where they are from, our leaders in the Legislature need to act quickly,” Specht said. “We can’t let a one-year dip in enrollment force budget cuts that will penalize the students who will return next year, especially when schools already needed more resources to help our students rebound academically and recover emotionally after this horrible pandemic year.” 

The Minnesota Department of Education reported Friday that 2020-21 enrollment in Minnesota’s public schools declined by about 2 percent, or 17,000 students, from the 2019-20 school year. The decline includes a 9 percent drop in kindergarten enrollment as parents decided to delay the start of their children’s schooling by a year. White students comprised the vast majority of the overall decline in enrollment, according to the department. 

Public schools are funded by the state on a per-pupil basis with each student bringing in about $10,164. Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed education budget, called Due North, addresses this pandemic enrollment loss with a $25 million infusion of new revenue for schools over two years. 

“During normal times, our public schools are more than a place where kids take tests. They are part of what ties communities together. They are places where childhood happens,” Specht said. “Now more than ever, it’s time strengthen our public schools, and that means ensuring the wealthiest among us and the largest corporations pitch in their fair share, so our schools have the resources they need to offer a high-quality education to every student, everywhere, no exceptions.” 

About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.

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