Multiple factors impacting the projected decline of RPS enrollment

(ABC 6 News) – Enrollment at Rochester Public Schools is predicted to drop over the next 10 years. Going from an average of 99% capacity to just over 70%. The district said a big reason for that is because of the pandemic.

"They’re pulling their students out because even though homeschooling is extremely difficult in their circumstances, they’re just fed up," said Kate Sanders, the director of Rochester Christian Homeschool Co-Op and Resource Center.

"The possibility going forward of covid restrictions. so parents are just tired of being forced to mask their kids. They are tired of their kids coming home saying they were bullied about getting vaccinated. Just the constant question of will there be distance learning again?"

While the future of the pandemic is uncertain, for parents like Tyler Mays, they don’t see fewer kids in the classroom as a bad thing. They actually see it as a potential positive.

"Students need more one-on-one time with teachers," said Mays. "[There would be] less resources being used, as far as gas for buses, and lunches."

Enrollment this fall is expected to drop by about 150 students. That’s less than 1% of the entire student body. There’s not a major concern about how that will impact the district’s budget but rather, making sure your money isn’t wasted.

"We don’t think this is an emergency or anything to panic over," that’s what John Carlson, the executive director of finance for Rochester Public Schools said on the projection. "We just need to lean into it, look at the data, and make sure we’re being very careful with our taxpayers’ money, and not overstaffing for next year."

In a recent referendum, voters approved new schools to be built in the district based on the original projected growth, pre-pandemic. With things changing because of the pandemic and distance learning, they’re still not sure how accurate their prediction will be in the future so they’re watching the numbers closely.