The state’s education director says a predicted increase in Iowa’s public school enrollment this fall has been revised.

Iowa Department of Education director Jason Glass says demographers in his agency had projected a “small” increase in K-12 enrollment, but when the final numbers were tallied, there was “a small decrease” instead. Glass spoke late Monday at a public budget hearing. Governor Branstad and the governor’s budget director asked Glass to explain.

“For the first time in several years, we had a projection of an increase in enrollment. We are seeing an increase in enrollment in the ‘Iowa urban areas’ — the Des Moines, the Cedar Rapids, the Iowa City, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Cedar Falls area — these areas are increasing in enrollment,” Glass said. “We continue to see the trend of our smaller, rural communities shrinking.”

The governor’s budget director cited Census figures indicating 57 percent of the children under the age of five live in the 13 largest Iowa counties. Department of Education officials expect “small increases” in public school enrollment in the coming years.

“This past year our demographers for the first time in 10 years projected an increase. That didn’t come to pass this current year, so the demographers were off,” Glass said late yesterday. “But, still, the amount of reduction — it wasn’t dramatic over where we were the year before.”

Governor Branstad asked Glass several questions on this topic. The state’s “condition of education” report should be released soon, and the exact figures on enrollment will be included in that document, according to Glass.

AUDIO of governor’s 12-minute-long hearing on education budget.