Enrollment in NH schools falls as 20-year decline continues. Here’s why.

New Hampshire public schools opened this school year with 1,845 fewer children than last year — a decrease of 1.1%. But when it comes to state enrollment trends, the change was hardly surprising.

School enrollment in New Hampshire has steadily declined for 20 years, with no sign of a turning point. The state had the largest number of children in public school in its history in 2002: 207,684. But 2002 was the last year of growth. In 2022, the number of children had dropped to 161,755 that month, according to the Department of Education, a 22% drop over two decades.

And the proportion of children in New Hampshire has fallen sharply compared to other states. According to an analysis by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, the state experienced the largest percentage decline in children under the age of 18 of any state between 2010 and 2020, with a 10.6% decline.