Winona public schools see attendance drop


Kristen Carrie

Madison Elementary School, once a part of Winona Area Public Schools, closed in 2018 after budget cuts resulted in the closure of both Madison and Rollingstone Elementary Schools. The district has since seen a decline in student enrollment.

Kristin Kovalsky, News Reporter

Student enrollment in the Winona Area Public School District has dropped by 35 students between Jan. and Feb 2020.

The data for student enrollment was collected at the end of the fall semester.

Annette Freiheit, superintendent of the district, said one reason for the drop in student enrollment was because of the change in semesters.

“It was kind of a natural break. After the January board meeting, we had our semester break, and so lots of times there’s changes for our student population at that time,” Freiheit said.

The majority of the students left the district out of necessity.

“Over half the kids moved out of the district, or their parents moved states, so that’s part of it,” Freiheit said. “And it probably occurred because of the natural break there.”

Kristen Carrie
The majority of the students left the district out of necessity. According to Annette Freiheit, “Over half the kids moved out of the district, or their parents moved states, so that’s part of it.”

Nancy Denzer, chair of the school board said that they collect the reasons students drop.

“We do a drop form that gives us information about where [the student] is going, is there something that happened at school, is that the reason that they’re leaving, or is it purely because their time here is done,” Denzer said.

One reason for the drop in student enrollment is that several students graduated from the Alternative Learning Center.

The Alternative Learning Center is available to students who need a different learning environment.

Another reason is that students moved to a different school in Winona County.

“There were a few families that moved to an in-district option,” Denzer said.  “There might’ve been an opening come up, and they were able to get in, they might’ve gone Ridgeway, Bluffview or any of the other charter schools.”

Student enrollment affects staffing at the schools.

“In each grade level [we have] target numbers, so then if we go over the target number, we add a teacher,” Denzer said. “If it’s under, we really have to look at are we going to be able to sustain that building, or we might have to have a teacher report to another building.”

Student enrollment also affects the budget for the district for the school year.

“The budget that was built [for the enrollment number] was lower than where we’re at right now, so our budget hasn’t really been impacted by the drop,” Freiheit said. “But now as we move into the next year, we have to be really aware of what our enrollment numbers are in order to build that budget.”

Support services for students are a large part of the budget for the district.

“I think we have pretty adequate programming and support services for kids,” Freiheit said. “We continue to always review that and make sure we’re providing what we need there.”

The district and school board are working to keep student enrollment stable within the Winona Area Public School District.


The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.