Enrollment in Iowa’s public schools dropped 734 students this school year according to the count by the Iowa Department of Education. Department spokesman, Phil Roeder, says the enrollment has dropped for 14 straight years, but it is the second smallest drop in that time.
Roeder says the decline has been going on for many years since enrollment peaked in the 1970’s and the project ahead for the next five years is that enrollment will start to increase over the next five years. Roeder says two areas of the state continue to see rapid enrollment increases.
He says the greater Des Moines area saw growth not only in the suburban cities, but the Des Moines public schools also saw a small increase in enrollment this year. The other area of growth was in the Iowa-City/Cedar Rapids corridor as the Iowa City school district has been one of the faster growing districts in recent years.
The Waukee school district in suburban Des Moines, saw the largest increase in both number and percentage of students — growing by 16,05 students, or a 32% increase. The next four districts for largest growth were Ankeny (1,297), Iowa City (743), Johnston (699) and Cedar Rapids Prairie (560).
Roeder says rural districts continued to see the biggest loss of students. Roeder says nearly two-thirds of the districts across the state saw a decline in enrollment, and many are rural districts. The Lineville-Clio lost 26% of its students (71), the largest loss in the state. Farragut lost 25% (218), Melcher-Dallas lost 25% (301), Ar-We-Va lost 23% (306) and Exira 24% (306).
Roeder says the certified enrollment determines how much funding each district will get from the state. He says the state currently gives each district a little under 58-hundred ($5,800) per student, so he says the loss or gain of students can have a big economic impact on a school district. A total of 473,493 K-12 students are attending public schools across the state this school year.
Enrollment peaked in the 1972-73 school year with 645,000 students. You can see the entire enrollment report on-line at the Department of Education’s website.