Van Meter Schools Could Curb Open Enrollment

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VAN METER, Iowa -- As the suburbs continue to grow, neighboring school districts are beginning to see the effects.

One school district could soon take action to keep their small class sizes intact.

“Their teachers give them the one on one attention that they need and they just really enjoy the small community aspect of it,” said Teresa Boston, parent.

That's one of the biggest draws to the Van Meter School District. Class sizes are in the high teens and low twenties. But some parents are deciding to open-enroll their kids from neighboring districts.

“One year they had a situation where my son started and then maybe two weeks later they had to split up the classes to add another class. But otherwise I feel they’ve done a great job adding teachers as time’s gone on to make sure they’ve been giving everyone the attention they need,” said Lorrie Roberts, parent.

With too many students enrolling in and not enough students enrolling out, Superintendent Deron Durflinger says the school is considering capping their open enrollment numbers.

“We pick up kids as they go. For example, last year’s graduating class had 32 when they started kindergarten and graduated with 59,” said Durflinger.

Van Meter is seeing the most open enrollment from Waukee schools with 62 students choosing their district. Next is Adel-Desoto-Minburn with 46.

Parents and administrators feel the second high school being built in Waukee will help relieve some of the pressure, but they are paying close attention to ADM’s growth rate, which has increased by 200 students since 2010.

That means more students are likely to open enroll to a smaller school.

“It definitely leads to pressures in regards to hiring staff because there’s less predictability,” Durflinger said.

And while parents are satisfied with class sizes now, they are worried about the future.

“I think capping open enrollment is important. We don’t physically have the structure to continue to grow at a rapid pace and I think it takes away from the individual learning experience when the numbers get too high,” said parent Jessica Drake.

Van Meter is in the process of building four new elementary classrooms to help handle more students in the future but does not have any other plans for expansion.

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