DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — School districts around the state have been waiting to see the impact that the governor’s Students First Education Savings Accounts program will have on their enrollment.
The state says 18,627 applications were approved across Iowa for the ESAs, however, students need to get accepted into a private school before accessing the money. The funding paid per student is $7,635.
Dr. Dan Ryan, the President of Dowling Catholic High School, said that the ESAs have not caused a surge in enrollment for the school.
“This year we’re estimating that of our nine through 12th-grade students receiving ESAs, 30-35 of them are transfers from public school. So typically our biggest transfer year is freshman, as you can probably imagine, so we’re probably seeing a few more in the grades 10th through 12th grades as well but nothing just outlandish,” Dr. Ryan said.
Since it is the first year, there are income restrictions on the ESAs except for kindergarteners.
Dr. Brad Buck, the Superintendent of Waukee Community School District, said that kindergarten enrollment could be an indicator of future ESA-related enrollment impact.
“We’re really keeping our eye on kindergarteners because in this first year, there are income limits but not on kindergarteners so last year at this time we were at about 984 kindergarteners and this year we’re at about 977 so that’s where we thought we would see the most immediate impact of ESAs in Waukee. So I think right there we’re holding pretty steady,” Dr. Buck said.
School districts will submit their final enrollment numbers in October.