Fall enrollment drops in most Iowa school districts

About one-third of districts saw increases

DES MOINES — The Iowa Department of Education today released new 2020 fall enrollment statistics for Iowa’s 327 school districts showing a decrease of nearly 5,935 students from last year. Overall this decrease represents a 1.21 percent decline in certified enrollment this fall, 484,159 compared to 490,094 last year.

Certified enrollment is used to determine funding for schools and differs slightly from the actual headcount of students enrolled. For the first time in ten years, certified enrollment decreased from the previous year. The Department of Education will be meeting with the Iowa Legislature and the governor’s office to discuss the potential impact of declining enrollment.  

Certified enrollment decreased at 215 school districts representing 66 percent of all public school districts in the state. Des Moines Public Schools had the largest decrease followed by Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Iowa City, Council Bluffs, Waterloo, Sioux City, Dubuque, Burlington and West Des Moines. 

More students enrolled in home school assistance programs this school year. A total of 8,735 students were enrolled in fall 2020 compared to 7,103 in fall 2019. In a home school assistance program students receive some services through their local school district. Iowa also allows for home schooling through competent private instruction and independent private instruction, so not all families use the home school assistance program.

More details on certified enrollment and fall 2020 headcounts are available on the Education Statistics web page on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

PK-12 Enrollment

School20202019ChangePercent
Belle Plaine488518-30-5.79
Benton1,6171,637-20-1.22
Iowa Valley553580-27-4.65
English Valleys484472+122.54
Williamsburg1,2261,238-12-0.96
HLV334338-4-1.18
BGM589580+91.55
Montezuma495490+51.02

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