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Overall student enrollment remains stable, but District looks to better understand choices families are making  


Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2019 — The School Board received an enrollment update at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Aaron Bushberger, director of finance, shared a mid-year update to complement the annual enrollment report he shared with the Board in October.

Unlike the annual report that focused on overall enrollment trends and class sizes, this mid-year enrollment update looked more closely at 10-year enrollment trends of South St. Paul Public Schools (SSPPS) resident and open enrolled students and families.

According to Bushberger, in the last 10 years, SSPPS has seen the number of resident students (i.e. school-age students living withing SSPPS) increase from 2,915 students in 2008-09 to 3,218 students in 2017-18. The overall student enrollment in SSPPS, taking into account resident students choosing other educational options and students outside the district open-enrolling into SSPPS, has increased slightly in those 10 years by a little more than 100 students.

In the last ten years, the number of SSPPS resident student open enrolling out to other public school districts or charter schools has increased. According to Bushberger, this increase in resident students choosing other options is due in large part to the increasing number of options that are available to families, citing two new nearby charter schools that have opened in the last decade. Additionally, during the same period, the rate of open enrollment into the district remained relatively flat, with 19 percent of students open enrolling into SSPPS in 2007-08, and 19.6 percent of SSPPS students open enrolling into the district last year.

“Overall the trend continues to show that we bring in more students through open enrollment than we lose,” Bushberger said. “However, that ‘net gain’ of students through the open enrollment program has been decreasing over the last 10 years as more resident families are seeking alternative options.”

Superintendent Dave Webb noted that the district continues to maintain a stable overall enrollment because of open enrollment. “We are fortunate that we continue to see more students enrolling into the district than out of South St. Paul, which many districts cannot say,” he said. “But we know that this detailed trend data, along with the findings from our parent survey completed in the fall, provide us with important information about what families are looking for in their local schools.”

Webb said the insights provide district leaders with a good roadmap on how to redesign SSP Schools in ways that help improve student outcomes and align with what local families are seeking. “We can always do better in preparing our students for their next step, and these key data reports are critical to helping us ensure we are achieving our district mission and vision.” 

To review the details of the mid-year enrollment update, click HERE.