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Charles City school enrollment dips slightly

By James Grob, [email protected]

After increasing by more than 60 students over the last three years, the Charles City School District saw a slight decrease in enrollment for the 2021-22 school year, of about nine students.

Charles City Superintendent Mike Fisher said that he’d always prefer to see growing enrollment numbers, but a slight dip isn’t terrible news.

“Enrollment is down throughout the state of Iowa,” Fisher said. “We’re actually very happy with our enrollment this year, coming out of the pandemic. We’re still up over the last four years.”

Official certified enrollment this year is 1554.48, down 8.62 from last year’s 1563.1. Fisher characterized the light dip after three years of growth as “still steady and stable.” He said he’s talked to many of his colleagues at other Iowa school districts who have told him their enrollment is down more than 30 students, so the small drop in numbers seems like good news.

“We’re still seeing positive trends,” Fisher said. “We’ve seen a real increase in our kindergarten classes.”

Fisher said that demographics show a large increase in kindergarten students in recent years. This year, the district needed to add a kindergarten section, as there are 123 students — the second consecutive year of above average class size.

“If we were seeing really small elementary classes, we’d be more concerned, but we’re seeing our elementary classes continue to grow,” Fisher said.

Certified enrollment is an annual report of enrolled resident students used for the Iowa School Finance Formula calculation. School districts across the state are required to tabulate their respective enrollment numbers and certify these totals with the Iowa Department of Education.

Enrollment numbers directly impact the amount of money the district receives from the state government. Iowa schools are funded on a per-pupil basis, and the enrollment totals submitted will determine the general fund and sales tax funding the district will receive. The more students in a district, the more money a district gets. The district also gets supplemental weighting for some of the courses that are taught, which is why there are fractions of students among the certified totals.

Three years ago, the certified enrollment numbers increased by nearly 40 students, after an average decline of approximately 11 students per year over a 10-year stretch. Enrollment numbers dropped by nearly 40 students in 2009-10 and by more than 47 students in 2014-15.

Fisher said he will present the enrollment numbers in detail to the Charles City School District Board of Directors at a meeting in January.

“We did graduate a big senior class last spring, so that had a little bit to do with the change,” Fisher said. He added that numbers show the district has also successfully addressed open enrollment and dropout rates, which has much to do with the new Innovative Campus.

The Innovative Campus is a new program in the school district this year that in part came out of some of the experiences teaching during the pandemic, and that brings together several non-mainstream ways of delivering an education, including the Carrie Lane High School alternative program, School to You remote learning and the Home School Assistance Program.

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Charles City School District Certified Enrollment
(K-12, rounded to nearest whole number), 2008-2022:
2008-09: 1,594
2009-10: 1,554 (-40)
2010-11: 1,546 (-8)
2011-12: 1,549 (+3)
2012-13: 1,580 (+31)
2013-14: 1589 (+9)
2014-15: 1,542 (-47)
2015-16: 1,531 (-11)
2016-17: 1,513 (-18)
2017-18: 1,502 (-11)
2018-19: 1,541 (+39)
2019-20: 1,549 (+8)
2020-21: 1,563 (+14)
2021-22: 1,554 (-9)

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