Diversity rising, enrollment stable in District 196

The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District has become increasingly diverse over the past 10 years, yet enrollment has remained about the same, according to an Oct. 1 report.

Enrollment of minority students has grown slightly over the past year with black students accounting for 12 percent of the student population, Hispanics 7 percent, Asians 9 percent and American Indians 0.54 percent, according to the report, which was presented to the School Board on Oct. 14. The population of white students in the district has fallen slightly to 69 percent.

“I think the changes we’ve seen will continue in the future,” Board Member Rob  Duchscher said.

Elementary schools have the most diversity in District 196 with minority students making up 33.76 percent of the elementary population.

This is above the state average of 27.02 percent for elementary schools.

Over the past 10 years the district’s minority population has risen from 15 to 30.12 percent.

At the same time, the district’s portion of students who speak English as a second language has grown. English Language Learners make up 5.39 percent of the district as of Oct. 1, which is an increase from 2003 when it was 3.92 percent. Statewide, 6.94 percent of students speak English as a second language.

In addition to becoming more diverse, District 196 has seen more students qualify for free and reduced meals over the past 10 years. The percentage of students who receive free or reduced meals has gone from 9.2 percent n 2003 to 23.20 percent in 2013.

“I’m surprised we are not seeing a greater increase in free and reduced meals with the economy,” Duchscher said.

Total enrollment — which includes all students in kindergarten through grade 12, plus students in center-based special education and early childhood special education programs — has increased slightly (0.13 percent) to 27,202 between Oct. 1, 2012 and Oct. 1, 2013.

“We’ve been holding our own,” said Kim Reis, student information supervisor for District 196.

The K-12 only enrollment is 25,993 students, which is a 0.25 percent increase over the past year and 0.18 percent more than projected by the district last November for purposes of preparing the 2013-14 preliminary budget. The final budget presented to the board in December will reflect actual enrollments from the Oct. 1 count.

The largest growth was within the elementary schools, which saw enrollment increase 1.1 percent to 11,679.

Although enrollment picked up at district elementary schools, the 2013 kindergarten class was among the smallest in recent years with 1,782.

“This is not a trend though,” Reis said. “Kindergarten enrollment has been fluctuating for a while.”

This year, seniors make up the largest class with 2,113 students, but enrollment at district high schools has dropped by 1.8 percent to 8,319 over the past year.