Students in the western Iowa town of Denison will return to classes next week at a time when many of their parents are looking for work. Last Friday, Tyson Foods shut down a plant in Denison, leaving 400 people without a job. Denison Community Schools Superintendent Mike Pardun says so far, there hasn’t been an uptick in transfers.
“You know, we’re going to feel an impact. Anytime you lose your second largest employer in your area, there will be an economic impact, both for your school and for the region. Being able to quantify what that looks like yet, is pretty hard to do,” Pardun said.
Roughly 180 of the district’s 2,100 students had at least one parent employed by Tyson Foods. While Pardun anticipates a drop in student population, he hopes it will be small since there are other employers in the area that are hiring.
“It’s relatively early, we’re not even a week in at this stage. But it’s certainly something we’re aware of and we’ll keep our eye on,” Pardun said. The Denison district could lose tens of thousands of dollars in state funding. For the 2015-16 school year, the state cost per pupil is nearly $6,500. Funding for the current year is based on last year’s enrollment. So, if there is a significant drop in numbers, that impact won’t be felt until next school year.
By Sarah Boden, Iowa Public Radio