DES MOINES - The overall number of students who enrolled in Iowa's public schools for the 2013-14 school year increased significantly from the year before, according to the official certified enrollment report released today by the Iowa Department of Education.
This is the second consecutive year that Iowa has seen a large one-year increase in statewide enrollment, following 17 years of declining enrollment.
A total of 478,921 students in kindergarten through 12th grade enrolled in public schools statewide for the 2013-14 school year. That represents an increase of 0.6 percent, or 2,676 students, from the 2012-13 school year. Enrollment peaked in the 1972-73 school year, with 645,000 students.
The recent upward pattern is due in part to a temporary spike in birth rates in Iowa starting in 2003, said Jay Pennington, chief of the Department's Bureau of Information and Analysis.
"Those rising birth rates leveled off in 2008 and slowly declined to about the same levels we saw before 2003," Pennington said. "Statewide student enrollment in the years ahead will mirror that pattern. So while it's great to see our enrollment increase after falling for so many years, we expect these increases to level off in the coming years."
Of Iowa's 346 school districts, 156 (45 percent) reported an enrollment increase in 2013-14 from the year before, while 183 school districts (53 percent) reported a decrease. Seven school districts saw no change in enrollment from the year before.
The five-year enrollment trend in Iowa shows a downward pattern for most districts. Of Iowa's 346 school districts, 217 (63 percent) reported an enrollment decrease in the 2013-14 school year, while 125 districts (36 percent) reported an increase. Four districts had no change during that period.