Iowa is one of three states that have not seen growth in charter school enrollment

(The Center Square) – While 39 states saw an increase in charter school enrollment in the 2020-2021 school year, Iowa was one of three states that did not. The figures come from a report by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released Wednesday.

Wyoming and Illinois are the other states that have seen a drop in registrations. Iowa (132 students) and Wyoming (631 students) are the only states included in the report that had less than 1,000 students enrolled in charter schools in the 2019-2020 school year. Enrollment in Illinois charter schools in 2019-2020 was 63,462 students.

Enrollment in Iowa charter schools fell 6.8 percent, to nine students, while district school enrollments fell 2.1 percent, to 10,656 students (from 517,189 at 506,533).

The state has two charter schools: Storm Lake / Iowa Central / Buena Vista Early College Charter High School in Storm Lake and Northeast Iowa Charter High School in Maynard. The Dubuque Community School District School Board decided in January 2018 to close its charter school, Prescott Elementary, after the 2017-18 school year, said Heather Doe, director of communications for the Department of Education. Iowa at The Center Square in an emailed statement.

The number of charter schools in Iowa could increase. In the last legislative session, Iowa lawmakers allowed charter schools to apply for permission through the Iowa Department of Education, without going through public school boards. The National Board of Education unanimously approved advancing its proposed rules for the new process last week at its September 16 meeting.

From the 2023-2024 school year, applications to the State Council should be made by August 1 of the previous school year. Charters for the 2022-2023 school year would be due on February 1, 2022. Initial charter school contracts would be awarded for five school budget years. Performance measures would include statewide outcome assessments for English / Language, Arts, and Mathematics.

Charter schools would require a written application, an in-person interview and a public forum, which would allow residents to inquire about the schools’ application. The board would decide, within 75 days of receiving an application, whether the future charter school would be successful.

The Iowans will have until 4:30 p.m. on October 26 to respond to the regulatory proposal. Stakeholders can contact General Counsel and Business Rules Coordinator Thomas A. Mayes by phone at 515-281-8661, by mail at the Grimes State Office Building, Second Floor; 400 E. 14th Street; Des Moines, IA 50319-0416, or by fax at 515-242-5988. The public hearing will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the State Council Chamber of the Grimes State Building, 400 E. 14th St., Des Moines. Another option is to participate by videoconference.

The state council plans to adopt the final rules at its Nov. 17 meeting, Doe said.

Americans for Prosperity Iowa director Drew Klein told The Center Square in an emailed statement that he had heard of interest in opening charter schools from “a handful” of people. , but these potential administrators were told to wait for the department to make rules.

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“With the publication of the rules, we are optimistic that students and families may see new options appear in the near future,” Klein said. “These proposed rules appear to maintain the legislative intent for innovation and flexibility.”

According to a Des Moines Register / Mediacom poll, 55% of Iowa residents oppose changing the law regarding charter schools without local school board approval.


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Joseph D. Whitman

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