Theron Schutte

The July 19th tornado in Marshalltown damaged the roofs of three elementary schools and the administration has found it also blew a big hole in the district’s enrollment.

Marshalltown school superintendent Theron Schutte says the resumption of classes this fall revealed that some families had left town. “We lost the equivalent of ninety students from our enrollment after having experienced an increase of about 140 the past two years,” according to Schutte.

Schutte says those families with Marshalltown students went farther than neighboring school districts. “I think they went to where they could find work and affordable housing, quite honestly,” he says. State financial aid to school districts is based on enrollment — so the lost of students also puts a hole in the district budget.

“Losing ninety students….we’re in the range of 600 to 700-thousand dollar decrease in funding,” Schutte explains. He doesn’t know if those students will come back in the Marshalltown community — so Schutte is planning budget cuts.

“Everything we can do to avoid negatively affecting the remaining students and staff will be looked at,” Schutte says. The Cedar Rapids school district experienced a similar enrollment dip following the 2008 floods.

(Dean Borg of Iowa Public Radio contributed to this story)