The Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) sent out a media advisory September 22 under the headline: “More families choosing to send students to Minneapolis Public Schools.”
MPS used some creative math. MPS has been losing students since 2000. Based on preliminary enrollment numbers from the first two weeks of school, enrollment will decline by approximately two percent.
Earlier, MPS had estimated a five percent drop, consistent with historic trends. The two percent decline was good news, showing better-than-expected enrollments. But if the numbers hold, they would still show a drop.
The official enrollment figures have not been released.
Emily Lowther, MPS communications associate, said the district had initially projected a drop of 225 elementary school students, 450 middle school students and 900 high school students. Based on the preliminary count, it appears elementary school enrollment will hold steady, and that middle schools and high schools will drop approximately 300 students each.
The Daily Planet asked for the school-by-school breakdown of preliminary enrollment counts. MPS provided the high schools numbers, reprinted in the chart.
According to MPS preliminary numbers:
• North High has 549 students, down 86 students, or more than 13 percent from last year. If the numbers hold, it will have fewer than half of the 1,143 students enrolled as recently as the fall of 2004. For comparison, Anthony Middle School had 530 students in 2007-08, according to the Minnesota Department of Education web site.
• Five of the seven traditional high schools showed enrollment increases from last year. All high schools beat the projections.
• Alternative high schools saw their enrollments drop by 374 students, or nearly one-third, driven in large part by the closing of Uptown Academy, which had 270 students last year.
Scott Russell is a journalist. He wrote for the Southwest Journal and Skyway News (now the Downtown Journal) in Minneapolis from 1999-2005. He also wrote for The Capital Times, a Madison Wisconsin daily, from 1993-1999.