Given that the number of Minnesota school districts dropped from 8,000 in the early 1900s to roughly 330 today, it’s not hard to realize that the size of some of the state’s districts must be massive. Indeed, one of Minnesota’s largest is the Anoka-Hennepin Public School District.
Because of its mammoth nature, we decided to look at the district to see how they’re doing. Does this massive district get a good return on investment on the money its taxpayers spend?
Anoka-Hennepin’s most recent numbers are from the 2021-2022 school year. That year, the total amended budget was $643,513,321. That’s a big number, but once divided by the large number of students in the district, surely it ends up being a pittance, right?
During the 2021-2022 school year, Anoka-Hennepin recorded a student enrollment of 36,606. That means that the district spends $17,579 per student.
Let’s put that price tag into perspective by comparing it to a couple of private schools in the Anoka-Hennepin district. Consider Totino-Grace High School in Fridley. Tuition registers at $17,270 this year, roughly $300 less than a public education in Anoka-Hennepin. Or consider Legacy Christian Academy in Andover. This year’s tuition is $14,295 at the most, over $3,000 less than a public education in Anoka-Hennepin.
But since public education in Anoka-Hennepin is so expensive, it must give stellar returns in the academic arena, right?
According to the Minnesota Report Card, only 60.2% of Anoka-Hennepin’s 10th-grade students in the 2021-2022 school year were proficient in reading. Only 43.7% of Anoka-Hennepin’s 11th-grade students were proficient in math that same year.
For comparison’s sake, remember Totino-Grace, the private high school where tuition was about $300 less than Anoka-Hennepin spends per student? They’re one of the top college prep private high schools in the state.
Clearly Anoka-Hennepin schools are delivering a poor product for a steep price. Perhaps it’s time the State of Minnesota attached education dollars to each student so that parents can shop around and choose the best school for the best price. Unfortunately, with numbers like the above, it seems unlikely that many parents would flock to Anoka-Hennepin schools if given the choice.
Image Credit: KalvinKalvin, CC BY-SA 4.0