STMA School Board looks at enrollment trends

The STMA School Board recognized 12 student artists who will have their art displayed in the district office. Back row, left to right, are: 10th-grader Lillian Jerpseth, 10th-grader Audrey Kenu, sixth-grader Zayda Nix and 12th-grader Rebecca Kosey. Front row: kindergartener Scarlett Kelly, fifth-grader Oliver Deden, fourth-grader Lauren Maher and fifth-grader William Ahrnedt. Not shown: Early Childhood Family Education student Renner Punt, second-grader Lincoln Shepard, second-grader Alexandra Macpherson, and sixth-grader Cailynn Kankelborg. (Photo courtesy of the school board)

At the Oct. 18 St. Michael-Albertville School Board meeting, the board was given an update on enrollment trends, presented by Director of Business Services Kris Crocker.

Data for 2021 is still preliminary, but as of Oct. 1, the current total enrollment from kindergarten to 12th grade in the STMA district is 6,606 students. That is up from the dip to 6,358 for the 2020 school year and up by almost 100 students from the 2019 school year when enrollment by Oct. 1 was 6,503.

This year the largest class sizes are in the older grades, topped by 600 students in 10th grade. The eighth through 12th grades are in the 500 to 600 class size range whereas kindergarten through seventh grade range from 400 to 519 students.

“As the demographic study stated [there will be] stable projections [of enrollment] moving into the future,” Crocker said. “You can see how that could happen as we start to graduate classes as large as 600 and then bring in classes between 400 to 500.”

According to data starting in 2008, enrollment has increased slowly each year. The district saw a decline in 2021 due to COVID, but the enrollment numbers have risen to above enrollment before the pandemic.

Special population enrollment numbers were also shared by Crocker. Free and reduced lunch percentages have been slowly declining from 11.4% of students in 2020 to 9.5% in 2021.

“We’re not sure if this drop in rate is truly a drop in eligibility or not much motivation to fill out the forms this year,” Crocker said.

Special education saw an increase in percentages, from 10.96% in the 2020-21 school year to 11.65% in the 2021-22 school year. The number of English language learners also rose this school year from roughly 1% in 2020-21 to 2% in the 2021-22 school year.

Crocker explained that class sizes are still high in the district.

“Kindergarten we usually have 17 to 19 in the classroom. We currently have 26, 27 in the classroom,” Crocker said.

Open enrollment has grown from 1,324 students in the 2020-21 school year to 1,428 in 2021-22. The net open enrollment value, subtracting those who are open enrolled in the district from those in the district who are open enrolled in other districts is 672 students in the 2021-22 school year.

Building capacity shows that each school is meeting capacity with about a 100 fewer students in each building than the max capacities. The capacity count does not include online learners.

“To make it clear, we have plenty of room in every single one of our buildings,” STMA Board Director Hollee Saville clarified.

The School District will continue to follow enrollment numbers each month and present them to the school board.

OTHER

In other action, the school board:

RECOGNIZED 12 students from kindergarten to 12th grade and their artistic talents. They were chosen to have their artwork showcased in the district office and were presented with awards during the meeting.

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