State officials have released the certified enrollment report for the 2012/2013 school year, showing more than 476,000 kids are enrolled in Iowa’s public schools. Jay Pennington is chief of the Department of Education’s Bureau of Information and Analysis.
“The number of kids being born in the state has increased over the last several years,” Pennington says, “and so that sort of supply component to the number of kids that are going to enter into the K-12 system is certainly a factor.”
There’s an increasing number of Hispanics in Iowa and Pennington says that is a contributing factor to enrollment growth. The percentage increase in Iowa’s student population is 0.6 percent. In raw numbers, that’s 2,741 more students this year compared to last.
While there’s an overall uptick in the number of students in all of Iowa public schools, the trends show districts around Iowa cities are growing, while districts in rural areas are shrinking.
“When we look at a five-year trend as an example, we see a pattern of a third of the districts, which are those urban/suburban districts, are continuing to grow,” Pennington says. “Two-thirds of the state, on the other hand, you know, which is generally representative of the rural population of the state, are continuing to see declines.”
Pennington’s analysis reviews the number of babies born in Iowa — children who will eventually be kindergarteners — and he says that data indicates enrollment growth likely is not a long-term trend.
“The birth records show an increase where it kind of topped out at about 2007 and then they show a sort of steady decline to about the same level that existed in 2000,” Pennington says. “…What we can expect to see in the coming years is continued increase, but then the numbers are going to start dropping again in a few years.”
Iowa’s public school enrollment peaked in the 1972-73 school year at more than 645,000students. That’s about 169,000 more than are in Iowa’s public schools today.
Three central Iowa districts — Waukee, Des Moines and Ankeny — along with Iowa City and Pleasant Valley in eastern Iowa recorded the largest increases in enrollment this school year. The largest decline over the past five years has been in the Cedar Rapids School District, with 851 fewer students enrolled, many due to relocation after 2008 flooding.
One Year Trend – Increase of Students – Numbers
DES MOINES 516
IOWA CITY 321
PLEASANT VALLEY 270
* Excludes reorganized districts and districts in whole-grade sharing agreements
Five-Year Trend – Increase of Students – Percent
ROCK VALLEY 21%
PLEASANT VALLEY 18%
Five-Year Trend – Increase of Students – Numbers
DES MOINES 1,279
IOWA CITY 1,025
PLEASANT VALLEY 641
Five-Year Trend – Decrease of Students – Percent
FOREST CITY -20%
Five-Year Trend – Decrease of Students – Numbers
CEDAR RAPIDS -851
COUNCIL BLUFFS -267