In a comment on our recent community survey, a parent wrote:
“Truthfully, there is plenty of room for more students at Marshall. A healthy number for Marshall would be 600-700 students.”
Historically, the school has been larger. When it first opened on the Rice Lake Road campus in 1963, it had almost 800 students. At that time, the school was Catholic. Since the school became independent in 1972, it has seen enrollment ebb and flow — but never approach those highs of the 1960s (sorry for the bad pun).
Over the past decade, one way we have evaluated the size of the school is by measuring the percentage of students at Marshall in relation to the number of students in the Duluth public schools. By this account, we have continued to do quite well. In the graph below, you can see that a decade ago the school had 566 students and a 6.78% market share. This year, we opened with 420 students and had a 7% market share. Marshall has indeed gotten smaller, as the overall student population in Duluth has shrunk.
Another metric we might use is the average market share for independent schools. Nationally, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) says that 1% of US students are enrolled in independent schools. By that measure, our high school enrollment should be 162 students. Instead, we currently have 235 students on the campus. By this metric, we look to be exceeding national standards by a wide margin.
To build on that measurement, we recently compared Marshall to a few other cities in the United States that, like Duluth, have only one independent school. The cities we looked at were Omaha, Nebraska, Boise, Idaho, an Hunstville, Alabama. How big are the independent schools in these areas compared to the average 1% market share?
You can see from the chart above that by this metric, that the demand for a Marshall education is stronger than in all three of our comparison markets. (Even though the size of the school in Hunstville is bigger than Marshall, the overall population is much, much bigger than Duluth.)
We have seen a huge uptick in demand this year, and we are delighted that we have been able to make room for more Hilltoppers.
I don’t know if this totally answers the initial question, but it does help us get a handle on the question: “How are we doing on enrollment?” The answer there is: Pretty great.