Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

Enrollment rises in state

By Xiomara Levsen | Jan 23, 2014
School was still in session in the Washington Community School District today, despite the cold temperatures. Pictured above are students at Washington High School eating lunch. State numbers show increased enrollment in public schools this year.

The Iowa Department of Education released the certified enrollment numbers for 2013-14 on Wednesday.
According to the Department of Education, enrollment in the state’s public schools increased for the second consecutive year. Some schools in Washington County are reflecting what the Department of Education showed with their enrollment numbers for the 2013-14 school year.
“I was a little surprised [about the increased enrollment in public schools],” said Washington Community School District (WCSD) superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen. “This is two years in a row for the state, but for us, enrollment has been increasing for four years.”
According to the Department of Education, WCSD has 1,784.6 students enrolled for this year. In the 2012-13 school year there were 1,768 students enrolled.
Jorgensen wasn’t anticipating the increase in enrollment this year. The kindergarten enrollment was the highest he has seen in a while.
“Enrollment in kindergarten did bump up this year,” he said. “We had about 140 kindergartners and had to add another section. We haven’t done kindergarten roundup this year to see if this trend will continue.”
Also, the seventh- and eighth-grade classes are really large, but Jorgensen thinks enrollment numbers will most likely stabilize and possibly decrease in five to six years.
Mid-Prairie Community School District has 1,246 students enrolled this year. In the 2012-13 school year there were 1,223 students enrolled.
“Anytime your enrollment increases, you’re pleased, especially when you look at the other schools who are seeing a decrease in their enrollment,” said Mid-Prairie superintendent Mark Schneider.
He’s hopeful enrollment continues to increase at Mid-Prairie.
“Kalona and Wellman are both close to the creative corridor [Cedar Rapids and Iowa City] where the population is increasing, and we’re hoping this will happen here,” he said. “We would like to continue to see a slow gain in enrollment.”
Keota Community School District also saw a slight increase of four students. They went from 342 students in the 2012-13 school year to 346 students this year, according to the certified enrollment report.
Schneider was pleased with the increase, even though it was a small number.
“We had a larger than normal kindergarten class this year,” Schneider said. “We only went up four students, but that’s still an increase of 5 percent.”
The Highland Community School District was at the opposite side of the trend. They had a decrease in enrollment from last year. According to the report from the Department of Education for the 2012-13 school year Highland had 660 students, and for the 2013-14 school year there are 650 students.
“We’ve been up and down the past couple of years,” said Highland Community School District superintendent Chris Armstrong. He attributes the decrease in enrollment this year to the number of seniors who graduated last year, 47, and the smaller number of kindergartners who enrolled in Ainsworth and Riverside Elementary School.
“We only have one section of kindergarten per elementary school this year,” Armstrong said.
Only time will tell how this will affect the district’s budget for the 2014-15 school year, Armstrong said. On average, Highland receives an estimated $6,120 per student from the state for each student who attends school in the district. With 10 fewer students this year the amount they receive from the state could decrease at least $60,000.
“It depends on what the legislators do for allowable growth,” Armstrong said.

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