CONCORD, N.H. – New Hampshire’s student enrollment continued to decline this year, according to enrollment data for the fall of 2023 released by the New Hampshire Department of Education this week.
The department’s latest numbers show that for the start of the current 2023 to 2024 school year, there were 165,095 students enrolled in public and public charter schools, a 1.4 percent decline from the previous year when there were 167,357 enrolled.
There’s been a downward trend of enrollment over the past 20 years, with the state losing an average of around 2,200 students per year.
In 2002, there were more than 200,000 students, but numbers have been decreasing since then.
Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said there are multiple factors driving the decline, including a lower school-age population.
“With demographic changes across the state that include an aging population and low birth rates, communities and school districts statewide are having challenging conversations needed to address funding, staffing, class offerings and more,” he said in a statement.
He said school districts should explore ways to address the long and short-term enrollment dip.
Even the state’s largest school districts saw declines, according to the data. Manchester is still the largest district in the state, with 11,851 students, down from 12,061 last year. It’s followed by Nashua, with 9,773, down from 9,915. Bedford is the third largest district, with 4,065 students. Londonderry has 3,996, and Concord has 3,933.
Some districts did grow in the past year. Auburn grew 19 percent, Bow grew 24 percent, and Hollis also grew 11 percent.
The declining school population was also evident in New Hampshire’s public university system, which saw a 13 percent decline from 2019 to 2023, according to a recent report.