By PETER HUSSMANN
The Newton Community School District's certified K-12 enrollment fell by 100 students in the current school year, the highest single year decline in the past four years.
Data released today by the Iowa Department of Education indicates the Newton district's certified enrollment for the 2010-2011 school year stands at 3,102. That's down from 3,202 students last school year, which was a drop of 65 students from the year before.
Since the 2007-2008 school year, the Newton district has seen a decline of 224 students.
The declining enrollment in the district was one of the factors that lead the Newton School Board to decide to close Emerson Hough Elementary School this year. The facility, however, is being used for the district's start-up pre-K program. The numbers reported today do not include those students.
The loss of students will have a significant impact on the district's budget. For the current school year, state student aid stands at $5,768 per student, state education department officials said.
Only one other school district in the county saw a certified enrollment decline this school year. Colfax-Mingo lost 27 students falling from 819 to 792.
The Baxter school district saw the biggest gain this school with certified enrollment growing by 35 students to 404. Lynnville-Sully jumped 10 students to 455 with PCM seeing a seven student increase to 1,036.
The Department of Education reported that statewide, school enrollment figures declined for the 14th straight year. A total of 473,493 K-12 students attend public schools across the state this year. That's down just 0.15 percent, or 734 students, from the 2009-2010 school year.
However, based upon current trends in the early grade levels, public school enrollment is expected to increase by 2.2 percent over the next five years, education officials stated.
Of Iowa's 359 school districts, 225, or 63 percent, reported student enrollment declines. Growth areas were in the Des Moines and Iowa City corridors.