The Iowa Department of Education says public school enrollment increased by 2,741 students from the 2011/2012 school year to the current year.
It's the first significant increase the department has experienced in the last 17 years.
Jay Pennington says this goes against recent enrollment trends in Iowa.
Pennington heads the Department of Education's Bureau of Information and Analysis.
He says Iowa's public schools have actually seen a slight decrease in enrollment over the last five years, going from 477,019 students in 2008/2009 to 476,245 in 2012/2013.
Pennington attributes this year's increase, in part, to a spike in Iowa's birthrate from 2003 to about 2008.
“Those students are eventually hitting the K-12 system,” said Pennington, “so we see about a four-year trend of increased births. It starts to decline again in recent years.”
Pennington expects to see enrollment increases for another 3-4 years before the numbers return to the norm.
The school districts based in Lee and Des Moines Counties mirror the statewide trends.
Six of the seven saw increased enrollment this year, but five of the seven have seen their enrollments decline over the last five years.
2011/2012 to 2012/2013
West Burlington +26
Fort Madison +20
Central Lee +20
2008/2009 to 2012/2013
West Burlington +7.0%
Central Lee -6.4%
Fort Madison -7.1%