Local paper: ‘Mayday’ for Range schools

The headline might be a little overly dramatic, but here is a sign that in all of our economic “hopin'” on the Iron Range we still have big problems. Since it would take at least five years for the economic development projects everyone is talking about (Essar’s Minnesota Steel plant, PolyMet, etc.) to manifest as enrollment increases, we’ll face some major financial issues in our schools in coming years. I predict a strong look at consolidation … again … between some of our districts. Remember, it’s about the education provided to students; not the preservation of buildings.

By Bill Hanna, Mesabi Daily News
Saturday, November 24th, 2007

The enrollment bleeding just won’t stop in the region.

An annual Mesabi Daily News survey of 15 school districts in Northeastern Minnesota shows that K-12 enrollment this fall has dropped by 536 students from last fall to this year. However, when 81 students at the new East Range Academy of Technology & Science in Progress Park are factored in, the enrollment loss is 455. Charter school officials say most of their students have transferred from surrounding school districts, with only some previously home schooled. The 455 number, however, is at least less than the 470 fewer K-12 students from fall 2005 to fall to 2006.

The overall numbers reflect a snapshot of enrollment at different dates that last eight years in the fall provided by school district officials. School enrollment numbers often vary from month to month, week to week and even day to day.

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