St. Paul schools look to bolster enrollment with door-knocking campaign

Slipping public school enrollment in recent years is hitting the St. Paul School District alongside recurring budget deficits, a one-two punch that's threatening the future of one of the state's largest districts.

The situation is fueled by an increasing number of families seeking out charter and private school options, mirroring a trend that many other districts across the country are dealing with as well. 

In an attempt to correct the problem, Mayor Melvin Carter and other city officials are holding listening sessions and even knocking on doors to register future students and gather feedback from parents.

"I think that’s so good," said Erica Villanueva, a parent who lives in the district. "When I tell people [my children] go to public schools, they look at me like I’m crazy ... And I’m like, 'I went to public school.'"

Starting Monday, organizers have a goal of knocking on 10,000 doors over the next six weeks and having at least 2,500 conversations with parents.They're targeting neighborhoods that have seen declining enrollment in recent years and hope to register a number of students along the way.

"One of the ways we can help strengthen [the school district] is by enrollment," Superintendent Joe Gothard said. "Enrollment is revenue for our school district, but it’s more than just revenue--it’s more about how does our district fit with with our community."

Nine schools in particular are what officials are focusing on:

  • John A. Johnson Achievement Plus
  • Riverview West Side School of Excellence
  • Jackson Elementary
  • Maxfield Elementary
  • Obama Elementary
  • Galtier Community School
  • Hamline Elementary
  • LEAP High School

Total cost for the program is estimated to be $41,590. AFT will contribute $31,590 to cover a large part and SPPS will contribute $10,000 for the rest of the budget.