Public school enrollment declined for the eighth straight year in the state, according to new data from the Mississippi Department of Education. 

This year, 465,913 students are enrolled in public schools, including both district schools and the 2,100 students in charter schools. This represents a drop of about 5,000 students or 1 percent of enrollment compared to the 2018-2019 school year. Enrollment is down 5 percent over the past five years. 

The numbers would show a greater decline, but for taxpayer-funded prekindergarten. This year, prekindergarten enrollment totaled 8,339. Four years ago, it was 5,961. 

Enrollment peaked at 494,590 during the 2004-2005 school year and hovered at or above 490,000 students as recently as five years ago. 

At the same time, education funding has increased or held steady meaning we continue to see the spending per student increase. Last year, Mississippi topped $10,000 per student for the first time and that number will tick up this year. 

Among school districts in the Jackson area, the suburban districts of Rankin County School District and the Madison County School District have long enjoyed growth in enrollment to match population growth in their counties, but that may be slowing.

In Rankin County, there has been a decline of about one percent in student enrollment over the past five years despite the county growing by about three percent during the same time period. Still, Rankin County remains the third largest district in the state with 19,160 students.

Madison County School District enrollment stands at 13,310. This represents a growth of just eight students over the past year, a small number for a district that has grown by 15 percent over the past decade. 

Enrollment in the Pearl School District grew from 4,257 to 4,366 while it remained relatively steady in Clinton at 5,306. It was 5,310 last year. Hinds County School District’s enrollment stands at 5,578, a decline of more than 10 percent in the past five years. 

But the district that continues to lose the most students each year is the Jackson Public School District. Enrollment is down to 22,510, a six percent drop from just the past year. Enrollment is down 20 percent in just the five years. JPS is also the school district most impacted by parents having the ability to choose charter schools for their children.