Student outflow grows

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 continued to shed students this fall, continuing a trend of declining enrollment that began in the late 1990s.

The district’s annual Oct. 1 head count shows 7,413 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, compared with 7,569 last October and 8,563 five years ago in October 2018.

Total enrollment of 7,909 includes 496 students in early education (voluntary prekindergarten, Early Childhood Special Education and School Readiness). Enrollment also includes the district’s new K-12 Virtual Academy, which reported having 479 students in late October.

The Oct. 1 report, presented to the School Board Nov. 10, shows lower numbers at every school compared with last year, except for a slight uptick at Burnsville Alternative High School.

Board Member Scott Hume noted a yawning gap between this year’s senior class (764 students) and junior class (628).

It is a big difference, agreed Lisa Rider, executive director of business services, though she said the senior population typically swells a bit in the first semester with some students completing credits for graduation who don’t return in the spring.

“Still, even with that, I’m sure it’s a pretty significant difference, which is unfortunate. ... We’ve been talking for a long time about declining enrollment in this district,” Hume said.

The gap is “a concern I would have when we start thinking about next year’s budget, perhaps,” he said. Schools receive basic revenue on a per-pupil basis.

At the elementary level, kindergarten has the highest enrollment (604) with lower numbers in each successive grade. Fifth grade enrollment is 491.

The elementary level is “typically where we’ve been losing our students,” Board Member Abigail Alt said.

Two elementary schools — Harriet Bishop and William Byrne — exceed 500 students. Rahn and Vista View are slightly under 300, the lowest enrollments.

The number and percentage of students of color have grown in the last five years. The number of Hispanic students was 1,570 in October 2018, compared with 1,716 this year. The number of Black students was 2,152, compared with 2,190 this year.

The number of white students was 3,520, compared with 2,314 this year.

In the three largest ethnic groups, white students comprise 31% of enrollment, Black students 30% and Hispanic students 23%.

“It’s just a wonderful illustration of all of the families and the cultures and the backgrounds that we’re serving,” Alt said. “And it just reiterates for me our ‘why’ in terms of the board’s commitment to thinking about our work and doing our work with an equity lens, because it’s such a wonderful mix of families and we owe it to each of our students and each of our families to serve them to the best of our ability.”

The district continues to lose far more students outside its boundaries than it takes in.

The number of district residents attending school elsewhere — including other public districts, private schools and charter schools — grew from 1,436 in 2011-12 to 3,154 last school year, according to the enrollment report.

The number of district residents open enrolling to other districts grew from 1,136 in 2011-12 to 2,444 last school year.

The number of students open enrolling into 191 has remained relatively constant, from 564 in 2011-12 to 587 last year.

Among the 2,444 students choosing other districts, neighboring Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan District 196 captured 1,168 — nearly half the total. Neighboring Prior Lake-Savage Area District 719 was next with 658. Neighboring Lakeville Area District 194 followed with 121.

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