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There was a relatively small change in Mount Ayr enrollment for the 2023-2024 school year as certified enrollment is sitting at 598.44 students, up .15 from last year.
However, a deeper dive indicates more students are open enrolling out of the district, than into the district.
Roughly 63.8 students open enrolled out, which is an increase of 5.3 from last year. On the other side, 51.0 students open enrolled in, which is down by 6 students from last year. Overall, that results in 11 less students in the district this school year.
Slight shifts over time do add up, however. During the past ten years, Mount Ayr Community School enrollment has declined by nearly 50 students since the 2014-2015 school year. Chart 1 shows enrollment for the 2014-15 school year at 647 students, while enrollment in the 2023-2024 school year is approximately 598 students.
Throughout the pandemic, the district saw a noticeable shift in students electing to enroll in virtual school options. While the trend seems to be reversing as more students return to the school building, virtual learning continues to impact certified enrollment.
Superintendent Shaffer noted “the district is holding steady, although a few more students are attending virtual schools or homeschooling than in past years.”
Bedford is seeing a similar trend. “Certified number steady,” Shaffer noted,
“but a few more open enrolled out, and a slight uptick with virtual learning as well.”
The Mount Ayr School Board will welcome one new face this year.
Patricia (PJ) West and Craig Winemiller retained their seats on the school board as a result of the November 7 election. They will soon be joined by Samantha Jo Elliott, who edged out Jim Uhlenkamp in a close race to become the board member at large. Elliott joined the board at her first unofficial meeting on Monday, November 13 for a preview of board actions.
A decline in enrollment at Diagonal Schools for the 2023-2024 school year is more noticeable, as they have fewer total students to begin with.
At their last regular meeting, October 18, 2023, the Diagonal school board learned certified enrollment declined from 112 to 87 students in the 2023-2024 school year.
At the start of the school year, 20 students open enrolled out of the district, while 32 students open enrolled in, so the shift is not necessarily tied to open enrollment.
Superintendent Larry McNutt believes the decline in enrollment is due to a number of students and families moving out of the area.
The shift in enrollment will result in approximately $195,000 less dollars for the Diagonal School District for the 2023-2024 year.