The 2017-18 public school certified enrollment tables are on the Iowa Department of Education’s website, but currently only accessible via magic. Fortunately, in this case, I have a magician’s touch. There are no big surprises, but a few small ones, likely brought on by the small sizes involved.
- Overall, the state ticked 0.03% upward in enrollment, and at 486,264.3 is the highest since 2002-03. But if you throw out the top three gainers — Waukee, Ankeny, and Iowa City — the rest of the state combined for a 0.22% drop.
- Of 333 independent districts, 24 declined by more than 5 percent, 162 showed a decrease between 1 and 5 percent, 135 grew between 1 and 5 percent, and 15 grew by more than 5 percent.
- Of the districts with enrollment above 1000, the biggest percentage drops were Red Oak and Union. Numerically, Davenport was the biggest loser, down 256.5. Davenport has lost 1000 students in a decade.
- Van Meter is the only district with an enrollment under 1000 that increased its number by more than 40 (70.7).
- Waukee has grown so much that the flood of students isn’t enough to jump out percentage-wise; it “only” grew 5.4%. Numbers-wise, it’s still crushing everyone in sight. Enrollment grew by 572.3, toppling Dubuque as the state’s ninth-largest district with Waterloo next up. This year’s “absorbed this entire district” comparison has multiple options: Logan-Magnolia, East Buchanan, Clayton Ridge, or Cardinal.
- Gilmore City-Bradgate and Twin Rivers, two tiny districts that shared a high school until 2011, are outliers percentage-wise for most growth and most decline, respectively. The net changes were +28 and -19, but that will cause double-digit swings when their combined enrollment is under 300.
- Next door to those, West Bend-Mallard (where Twin Rivers is sending grades 7-12, despite only having the flimsiest of shared boundaries) is the next percentage decline outlier. Its 11% decline pushes certified enrollment below 300, a potential trigger for closure of Mallard Elementary.
- Janesville has benefited enough from being between Waterloo and Waverly that it has the problem of too little class space. This week, on the third try, it finally got a bond issue for a new gym and more classroom space.
- For the first time in seven years, North Tama didn’t hit an all-time low, but the increase was marginal.