Osseo Area Schools enrollment has ‘stabilized’

District continues to face competition from other public schools

The Osseo School District’s December enrollment projections offered encouraging news.

“The decline has stabilized,” Kim Riesgraf told the school board Dec. 18. “… We expect fairly stable enrollment over the next five years.”

As of Dec. 1, 20,246 students were enrolled in the district. That’s 149 students more than projected and 25 more students than the last December.

Enrollment dropped sharply between 2007-08 and 2008-09 and has been gradually declining since. But the latest projections show fairly stable enrollment for the next five years. The district predicts a net loss of about 228 students by the 2017-18 school year, and average of about 46 students per year.

Riesgraf said one measure the district is tracking is the increase in special populations. Special populations include free and reduced lunch students, minorities, students with limited English and special education students. Enrollment of special populations is increasing statewide.

In the Osseo district, enrollment of special education students remains flat, while the number of limited English, minority and free and reduced lunch students is increasing.

Another population the district tracks is student who are “mobile,” which refers to students who change districts during the school year. In 2012, about 16 percent of students were mobile, down slightly from 18 percent in 2008.

“This means that almost one in five of our students are coming and going throughout the year,” Riesgraf said.

Riesgraf also discussed the other options residents are choosing for their children. She said trends show more residents turning to charter schools and other Minnesota school districts than in previous years. Currently 81 percent of residents attend Osseo Area Schools, while 8 percent go to charter schools and 10 percent choose other Minnesota public schools.

An analysis of the net students gained and lost to other districts shows District 279 has a net loss of students to the Anoka-Hennepin, Brooklyn Center, Wayzata and Fridley districts. It has a net gain of students from the Robbinsdale, Minneapolis and Elk River districts.

“We particularly experience competition from charter schools,” Riesgraf said.

Seven charter schools enroll more than 50 Osseo district residents: Parnassus Prep, Excell, Noble, Prairie Seeds, Odyssey, Beacon and Minnesota Transitions.