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State’s enrollment expected to continue growing

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Enrollment in Iowa’s public schools continues an upward trend, with the number of students in Iowa’s classrooms expected to grow an additional 1 percent in the coming five years.

The trend derails a 16-year decrease in Iowa’s student population, according to enrollment projections from the Iowa Department of Education.

Depending on where you sit, it is a mixed good-news, bad-news bag.

Iowa’s metro areas, particularly the Des Moines area, will continue to see growth through 2018, while many rural areas face continued stagnation or, worse, substantial decreases in student populations.

Still, the overall number of school districts with declining student enrollments has decreased. A year ago, 66 percent of the state’s 348 districts had declining student enrollment; today, that stands at just over half of the districts, or 54 percent.

“It’s not a huge change, but it is noteworthy,” said Jay Pennington, bureau chief for the Department’s Bureau of Information and Analysis Services. “It shows that 11 percent of the districts no longer are facing declining enrollment. They are either growing or have hit a plateau.”

Pennington said the increased state enrollment projections are due to an upsurge in births, affecting both urban and rural areas. The projections also reflect an overall shift toward larger school districts. Currently there are roughly 9 percent of districts educating 50 percent of the students. By 2017-18, that 9 percent will be educating 51.67 percent of students.

The state’s student population growth started in the current school year – the first time that has happened since the 1996-97 school year. Still, the state’s entire public school enrollment – 476,245 –pales in comparison to the state’s all-time high set in the 1972-73 school year when 645,000 students were enrolled.

The upside for districts with growing enrollments is that it enables them to plan further ahead and have money on hand to add or beef up programs. Districts facing declining enrollments must endure shrinking budgets.

“We’ll probably see more consolidations among those districts,” Pennington said. “And some others will be looking to partner with neighboring districts.”

Based on its current trajectory, Waukee – Des Moines’ westernmost suburb – will lead the state in growth with a projected 26 percent increase in enrollment by 2018. That will eclipse the enrollment of West Des Moines, another suburb. Waukee also tops the state in projected growth of the actual number of students at 2,046, bringing the districts total to 9,768 students.

On the other side of the equation, Ventura is projected to have a 32 percent decrease in enrollment over the next five years, though Dubuque has the largest anticipated decline in the number of students at 338.

Among the state’s nine Area Education Agencies (AEA), the districts that are projected to have smaller enrollments are: Keystone in northeast Iowa, AEA 267 in northern Iowa, Prairie Lakes, also in northern Iowa, Mississippi Bend in far eastern Iowa, Green Hills in southwest Iowa and Great Prairie in southeast Iowa. The remaining AEA districts, which include the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and Sioux City districts, show increases. Heartland, which includes the Des Moines metro area, shows the largest increase in the number of students, with nearly 4,700 additional students within the next five years.

District-level Information

2012-2013 Certified Enrollment and Projections from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018 by District

District Level Projections by Grade from 2013-2014 through 2017-2018


State-level Information

2012-13 Iowa Public School Enrollment Projections For 2013-14 Thru 2017-18

2012-13 Iowa NonPublic School Enrollment Projections for 2013-2014 Thru 2017-2018


The top five districts with the largest projected gain in percent
District Name 2012-2013 2017-2018 # Changes % Changes
Waukee 7721.3 9768.0 2046.7 26.5%
Harris-Lake Park 324.4 406.7 82.3 25.4%
Sioux Center 483.1 601.1 118.0 24.4%
Clear Creek Amana 1671.3 2058.1 386.8 23.1%
Rock Valley 688.3 838.1 149.8 21.8%


The top five districts with the largest projected loss in percent
District Name 2012-2013 2017-2018 # Changes % Changes
Ventura 227.7 154.7 -73.0 -32.1%
Essex 215.2 155.7 -59.5 -27.6%
Villisca 334.0 261.9 -72.1 -21.6%
Odebolt-Arthur 336.3 263.8 -72.5 -21.6%
Prairie Valley 606.0 477.1 -128.9 -21.3%


The top five districts with the largest projected gain in number of students
District Name 2012-2013 2017-2018 Change
Waukee 7721.3 9768.0 2046.7
Iowa City 12,774.4 14,288.0 1513.6
Ankeny 9386.3 10,451.4 1065.1
Des Moines Independent 32,062.1 32,878.7 816.6
Pleasant Valley 4230.0 4988.1 758.1


The top five districts with the largest projected loss in number of students
District Name 2012-2013 2017-2018 Change
Dubuque 10,513.3 10,174.7 -338.6
Chariton 1361.1 1138.8 -222.4
Fort Dodge 3711.8 3500.3 -211.5
Ottumwa 4531.2 4321.6 -209.6
Clinton 3965.5 3765.2 -200.3


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on March 20, 2018 at 4:32am.