At a recent work session, the Edina School board got an update of how the number of students in the elementary schools compared with their projections. This is important because the number of students translates into funding from the State for next year. Normally this is a small detail because, while no projection is perfect, the administration is pretty good at making these projections. These results were different.
Enrollment in the elementary schools is 93 students less than last year and 126 students less than projected. The result of this is that the funds from the State to pay for elementary education next year will be $500,000 less than planned. The school board will be challenged on how to deal with this situation.
The first question they will have to address is why so many Edina residents aren’t sending their children to Edina schools this year? We all know of the controversies over the last few years and that the academic test results have fallen for many consecutive years. I know of a few parents who took their children out of Edina schools because of these issues. The drop of 93 students from last year is not just a few concerned parents.
Last year the school board talked about doing a survey of those who left the Edina school system, but it was never implemented. That survey should be undertaken immediately. This drop in enrollment is a very big challenge. However, unless the school board has accurate information on why parents are taking their children out of Edina elementary schools, they cannot begin to address and correct the enrollment drop. These things take time to figure out.
There was a recent listen and learn session to understand what goals Edina residents have for the Edina Public Schools. When it came to elementary school, many wanted to reduce class sizes. A $500,000 budget shortfall will make that impossible. It is possible that 4-7 teaching jobs would be eliminated to offset that shortfall. That would only serve to increase class sizes.
As this develops throughout the school year, I will keep you updated.