After a decade of losing ground, enrollment is on the rise again in the Newton Community School district. During Monday night’s board meeting NCSD superintendent Bob Callaghan presented the state certified enrollment numbers to the board, which show an increase of 112.7 students for the 2017-18 school year, up from last year’s enrollment of 2,806.
The enrollment numbers include all students who are served by the district, and the fractional percentage represents students who receive services from the district. For example, students who are homeschooled but also participate in sports at NCSD are funded by the state at a level of .1, which is used to determine the amount of funding the district receives from the state. The district will receive $6,664 for each student listed on its certified enrollment, a critical component of the district’s budget for the following school year.
The actual enrollment represents an increase of 110 students, a substantial increase. That increase would represent a third consecutive year of slow, yet steady gains after a decade of shrinking enrollment within the district. 3.352 students were on the rolls at NCSD in 2001, but those numbers started to fall in the early 2000s dropping all the way to 2,954 students during the 2014-15 school year. Enrollment numbers rose slightly in the following years, with a total of 2,956 students during the 2015-2016 school year and 2,965 students in 2016-2017. For the first time since the 2013-14 school year enrollment has risen above the 3,000 mark.
“We believe that we have great opportunities for the kids here,” Callaghan said. “The district has been a good partner with the city and community leaders, when we went out for a bond we had a 76 percent majority, there’s excitement about the school in the community.”
As part of the district’s enrollment verification process, NCSD also released data on need-based services offered throughout the district. A growing percentage — 55.72 percent — of the students enrolled at NCSD this year will receive free or reduced-price lunches, an increase over last year’s 55.01 percent. At Emerson Hough, where 73.54 percent of students are eligible, the highest percentage of all schools, the district is participating in a state-sponsored program to provide free breakfast and lunch to every student.
On Monday the board also approved the purchase of a new “Megatron” server, a much-needed upgrade, according to Erik Davis, technology manager for the NCSD. Several bids for the project were submitted, with Lightedge, based in Des Moines, coming in as the low bidder at $63,183.01. Increases in technology, including issuing iPads and Chromebooks to students have put a strain on the network, and this upgrade will speed things up across the district Davis said.
“All of our servers are 6-years-old or older,” Davis said. “When you get to that point you’re nearing the end of their useful lifecycle, we’ve used them to that extent and then some.”
The new server will be the first time the servers have been upgraded in the five years that Davis has been with the district. It will allow the district to use “virtual desktops,” which will extend the timeline for replacement equipment in computer labs from three to five years up to five to seven years.
Davis said he plans to order the server this week, and he hopes to have it up and running during the Christmas break.
“I’m very excited,” Davis said.
Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org