Maine’s public school enrollment remains below pre-pandemic levels

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The number of students enrolled in Maine public schools grew in the 2021-2022 school year from the 2020-2021 school year, but remains below pre-pandemic enrollment levels. 

According to data released by the Maine Department of Education (DOE), there are 173,158 students enrolled in public schools across the state for the 2021-2022 academic year, an increase of just under 1,000 students from the previous year.

During the 2020-2021 academic year there were 172,424 students enrolled in public schools. During the 2019-2020 school year, before the pandemic, there were 180,336 students enrolled in Maine public schools. 

While overall enrollment for 2021-2022 increased from the previous year, enrollment in some grade levels did decline.

Enrollment numbers for first, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and tenth grades decreased for the 2021-2022 school year from the previous year.

Maine’s public school enrollment numbers were declining before the pandemic. The Maine DOE provides data on public school enrollment for the past ten years. For the 2012-2013 school year, the earliest year for which data is available, 185,588 students were enrolled in public schools in Maine. 

Public school enrollment has declined by an average of approximately 1,931 students per year between the 2012-2013 school year and the current 2021-2022 school year. Enrollment levels have declined every year, with the exception of the current school year and the 2018-2019 school year.

Enrollment grew slightly during the 2018-2019 school year from the 2017-2018 school year. There were 180,677 students enrolled in Maine public schools during the 2017-2018 school year and 180,817 students enrolled during the 2018-2019 school year.

That increase was erased during the 2019-2020 school year, when enrollment fell by almost five hundred students, to 180,336.

According to data from the 2020 census, while Maine’s population grew by 2.6% over the last decade, the number of Maine residents under the age of 18 declined 1.4%. People under the age of 18 account for 18.5% of Maine’s population of just under 1.4 million. 

In addition to reporting public school enrollment counts by grade, the Maine DOE also reports school enrollment data by school and location, student groups, and by the number of students for which each school district is responsible. The Maine DOE has not yet updated these data sets to include information for the 2021-2022 school year.

School districts are required to report enrollment numbers to the Maine DOE by October 1. The superintendent and special education director of each school district is required to certify enrollment numbers between October 16 and October 30.

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