Rochester Public Schools enrollment is up, as many families make the switch to private

(ABC 6 NEWS) – Parents throughout Minnesota may be looking for alternatives to public school with the state’s public schools seeing a slight decrease for the 2021-2022 school year, according to new data released by the Minnesota Department of Education.

However, that is not necessarily the case in Rochester.

"Since the fall of 2021 we’re actually up slightly," said Rochester Public Schools Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel.

Rochester Public Schools saw over 600 students leave the district during the pandemic. For the 2021-2022 school year, however, the district saw a .09 percent increase, or 165 students.

"I think that we’re also going to see increasing personalization and curricular innovation in the years ahead so it’s not sort of the factory model of school," Pekel said.

More students are also enrolling in private schools throughout Minnesota. Across the state, nonpublic schools saw a 5.8 percent enrollment increase.

Locally, Rochester Catholic Schools saw a seven percent increase since October and are expecting to grow another five to 10 percent.

"I think the pandemic ignited in parents to really try and find what was best for their child," said Annemarie Vega, President of Rochester Catholic Schools.

Vega believes public school is best for some children, but private school may be what is best for others.

That rang true for Melissa Seger and her family.

"We were looking for something very steady in terms of academics and growth and just the stability of coming every day," Seger said of their switch to private schools.

Seger is switching her family from Rochester Public Schools to Rochester Catholic Schools.

"I think that one of the things that the pandemic has shown us is that we have choices. We have choices in what our kids education looks like," she said.