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Inver Grove Heights Schools Losing Students, Racial Diversity to Open Enrollment

A University of Minnesota Law School study says Inver Grove Heights loses many more students to open enrollment than it attracts, especially among minority groups.

Open enrollment is hurting the Inver Grove Heights School District, according to a University of Minnesota Law School study.

Not only is District 199 losing students—and state funding—but it's also becoming more racially isolated as a result, the study says.

Budgets Matter

The study, which looked at state-wide open enrollment during the 2009-2010 school year, says Inver Grove Heights lost a total of 264 students to other school districts—mostly to South St. Paul. A total of 668 students left Inver Grove Heights' school district, and only 404 students came in. And the study says the numbers are relatively steady annually.

What's that mean in dollars? With state funding ranging from roughly $7,000 to $11,000 per student, those 264 students add up to a lot of money.

Wrecking Racial Diversity?

It seems open enrollment is actually a cause of racial disparity in Inver Grove Heights, the study says.

In 2009-2010, Inver Grove Heights schools lost a net of 173 non-white students to open enrollment. A total of 299 non-white students left District 199, and only 126 students came in.

The phenomenon isn't limited to Inver Grove Heights, researchers say.

The study found that open enrollment increased segregation in the metro region overall between 2000 and 2010, with 36 percent of open enrollment classified as segregative in the 2009-10 school year. By contrast, just 24 percent were integrative. The rest were race neutral.

“Open enrollment allows parents a wider choice in matching a school’s programs to a child’s needs and creates clearer competition between schools that could encourage innovation or improvement,” the study reported. “Yet, open enrollment also enables moves based on less noble motivations that can accelerate racial or economic transition in a racially diverse school district.”

Click on the PDF to the right of this article to read the full report. Use the widget above to see the racial makeup of each district in Minnesota.

Pork Chop Guy January 24, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Law of unintended consequences.
Doodle January 24, 2013 at 03:15 PM
I'm curious how many they lost to homeschooling.
Johnny Germscheid January 25, 2013 at 05:01 PM
The claim in this article that open enrollment causes racial disparity in District 199 is misleading. There are differences in vocabulary using educational terms such as racially isolated and diversity that should not be confused. As written in this Patch article from 2011, http://bit.ly/10WsrSK, the percentage of students of color in Inver Grove Heights Community Schools has been steadily increasing for many years. In 2003, students of color accounted for only 14.6-percent of total enrollment. By 2010, that number had soared to 27.6-percent. Open enrollment is still not limiting diversity in our schools. Today, students of color account for 32.1-percent of total enrollment in Inver Grove Heights Community Schools. In school year 2011-2012, more than half of newly enrolled students in District 199 were non-white. For a closer look at District 199’s demographic information, click here: http://bit.ly/10SQT6C. There are various factors that families consider when choosing to open enroll a student. For example, many districts surrounding Inver Grove Heights have passed technology levies that provide them with additional revenue that can be used to benefit students. No such levy has ever existed in District 199. Inver Grove Heights Community Schools continues to work within our budget to provide students with a high quality education so that they may reach their full potential.

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