Total enrollment drops again, but open-enroll on the rise

By Kate Hayden,

Open-enrollment numbers are rising, but the Charles City school district will be back on a budget guarantee by the state for the 2017-18 school year, the Board of Education heard at Monday’s meeting.

This year’s certified enrollment for the Charles City district is 1,501.65 full-time equivalent students, down more than 11 full-time students from the 2016-17 school year.

Certified enrollment requires districts to weigh the student population by state criteria. Iowa uses certified enrollment to assign Supplemental State Aid (SSA) per school district.

Open-enrollment has increased in 2017-18, with 36 full-time students enrolling into the district, compared to 27 full-time district residents who attend school in other districts.

An additional six students open-enroll as part of the Home School Assistance Program. And the district’s preschool program also increased an unspecified amount, according to the district report.

“We are looking at sizable cuts for the spring, a combination of seeking extra revenue and cutting the budget,” Superintendent Dan Cox told board members.

The Charles City school district lost $17,817 in General Fund dollars meant for a juvenile court school liaison; a loss of $40,000 for class size reduction costs; and transitioning $175,000 from PPEL/sales tax funds that will now be pulled from the General Fund.

In a separate agenda item, the board directed district administration to review offering early retirement options for staff in the spring semester.


Cox will begin working with legal counsel to set a bond date on the high school renovation/rebuilding project after receiving direction by the Board of Education  Monday night.

“‘When are we?’ is the No. 1 question I get,” board member Robin Macomber noted during the meeting. “People are ready and waiting on us.”

Vice President Scott Dight noted that while the board would prefer to have a basic plan to present from the architectural firm, the final design of the high school plan could look very different after any bond vote.

“To come up with a full design or floorplan, I don’t think that’s realistic,” Dight said. “The details would be worked out later. I get asked how soon it will be before we move forward, and I think we need to kick it up a notch or two and get it moving sooner rather than later.”


The Board of Education agreed to cancel the Nov. 27 meeting due to a conflict with Cox’s schedule, and rescheduled the first meeting in December, now set for Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.

The December meeting was originally scheduled for the day before the option agreement between the district and local developer Charley Thomson is due to expire. The board agreed to reschedule, with the expectation that Thomson’s option to purchase the 500 North Grand building may be on the night’s agenda.

In the meantime, the Board of Education will have a public listening post on Nov. 18 at Dave’s Restaurant, from 9-10 a.m. The post is informal and no district action will be taken at the time.