The enrollment number used to determine how much state money each of Iowa’s 362 school districts receive shows a continued decline in students. Department of Education director, Judy Jeffrey, says the "certified enrollment" has dropped again.
Jeffrey says since 2003 and 2004 over 75% of Iowa school districts have reported a decrease in enrollment, and this year only 31% of the districts reported an increase in enrollment. Jeffrey says the numbers show a continued trend of growing suburban schools.
"It’s very clear that districts that surround more urban areas in almost all cases are the districts that are growing, while some of our largest districts, who are situation in urban areas are decreasing," Jeffrey says. The Waukee School District west of Des Moines saw the biggest increase in enrollment at 67.5% from 2003 to 2005. The four other fastest growing districts by percentage were: Johnston, Bondurant-Farrar, North Polk and Ankeny. All four are suburbs of Des Moines, and grew over 20%.
Des Moines, Davenport, Sioux City, Council Bluffs and Mason City all saw the biggest decrease in the number of students lost from 2003 to 2005. Districts receive state money based on the number of students in the certified enrollment, and Jeffrey says if the declines continue, some may not be able to stay viable.She says it’s definitely a danger for districts in bad economic times to continue loose enrollment and revenues and still keep up the quality of their programs.
Jefferey says the total certified enrollment figure overall was down by 3,590 students. Jeffrey says that’s .75% compared to last year, but she says it’s the certified count and includes the actual number of students in the district, along with some weighting for students. As an example, English as a second language students are weighted so the district will get more money for the additional instruction required of them. While the enrollment has trended down for over a decade, Jeffrey says future projections give some hope that will turn around.
Jeffrey says they assume that the slow decline will continue until the year 2011 when there might actually be an uptick in enrollment in public schools. The certified enrollment count is taken on the first day of October every year. You can see the entire report in the link below.