The overall number of children schooled in New Hampshire — including public, charter, private, and homeschooling — decreased by 1% between October 2020 and October 2021, according to recently released data from the NH Department of Education. The largest change was in homeschooling, where the number of homeschooled children decreased by 32%. Enrollment in public schools decreased slightly by less than a percent, while enrollment in private schools decreased by 3%. The number of children in charter schools increased by 8%.
Much of the growth in charter schools is attributed to increased enrollment in VLACS, the state’s online charter school, and the opening of a new K-12 charter school in Keene. VLACS had a sharp increase in enrollment as schools reopened in-person earlier this year.
There were 5,607 fewer children enrolled in school of any kind between fall 2020 and 2021. This could be due to a number of factors, including children moving out of state or attending private schools outside of New Hampshire. The figures do not include students who attended schools as part of interstate compacts.
Where do NH children go to school?
The table below shows the number of children enrolled in New Hampshire schools in 2020 and 2021. These figures include preschool programs.
The vast majority of New Hampshire children attend public schools — nearly 160,000 children attended their neighborhood schools in 2021, which is slightly fewer students since 2020. The number of children in charter schools has grown by 390 children, while the number of children in private schools has decreased by 453. Similarly, there are 1,925 fewer homeschooled children this year, down from 6,110 in 2020.
The majority of New Hampshire families continue to choose public schools for their children. In 2021, 87% of children were enrolled in public schools. Three percent were enrolled in charter schools, including VLACS, the state’s online charter school, and 10% of children were enrolled in private school or were homeschooled.
Charter School Growth
Charter schools enrolled an additional 379 students between 2020 and 2021. Some of the key reasons for the growth included:
- VLACS, the state’s only online charter school, nearly doubled its elementary school enrollment from 99 students in 2020 to 192 students in 2021, with experts believing that in-person school requirements led many families to seek the all-remote option; and,
- one new K-12 charter school (Gathering Waters Charter School in Keene) opened, enrolling 228 elementary and high school students.
The existing charter schools saw mixed enrollment trends, with some experiencing relatively large growth, and some having sharp enrollment drops. Spark Academy in Manchester, for example, enrolled 29 additional students, which was an increase of 85%, between 2020 and 2021. However others, like Making Community Connections in Manchester, PACE Career Academy in Pembroke, and most recently, Cocheco Center for the Arts in Dover, have or are planning to close their schools due to low enrollment.
The number and size of charter schools is expected to grow in New Hampshire in the next decade following a $46 million federal grant to open new schools and expand existing ones.
What about school voucher programs?
This fall, lawmakers implemented a new statewide school voucher program, known as “Education Freedom Accounts,” or EFAs. As of October 1, 2021, there were 1,635 students receiving a school voucher. It is unknown at this time how many of those students are enrolled in private schools and how many are homeschooled.
Though these students are counted as “EFA students” for the purposes of compulsory attendance requirements, these students may be counted in the enrollment figures above, though it is unclear how many were included.
About the Data (all data are published from the NH Department of Education)
- Public and Charter School Enrollment: School Enrollments by School and Grade, which counts the number of children enrolled in public and charter schools on October 1 of each year. The figures above do not include students who attended public schools as part of interstate compacts.
- Private School Enrollment: Nonpublic Enrollments, which counts the number of children enrolled in New Hampshire private schools on October 1 of each year. These numbers are self-reported by school, and may include out-of-state students attending a private school in New Hampshire. Similarly, students who attend a private school out of state are not counted.
- Homeschool Enrollment: Home Schooled Fall Enrollments, which counts the number of children who are homeschooled. These figures are broken down by district, but also include the totals for the Department of Education and Private Schools.