Eastern Iowa private schools prepare for first semester with vouchers
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - In just about two weeks, students will head back to school for the first semester ever in Iowa with private school vouchers in use.
Cedar Valley Christian School is one of the private schools that has seen increased enrollment directly tied to the new Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).
Jeff Pospisil, the principal of Cedar Valley, said enrollment has been increasing for the past few years, usually to the tune of about 20 added students a year. However, with the roll-out of the vouchers, he said the number of new students coming in was around “40 or 50.”
Pospisil said a majority of the kids at the school, about 60%, are now using vouchers to pay for tuition.
“A lot those were new kids, but a very high percentage of our current families also qualified for ESAs,” said Pospisil.
Over at Xavier High School, President Chris McCarville said 130 students will be using ESAs, some of whom had already been enrolled.
“In terms of total, we were projecting 582 this year for total student enrollment. We’re looking at about 595 as of today. So, you know, it certainly had an impact,” said McCarville.
TV9 reached out to the Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) to see if it had seen a correlating drop in enrollment. A representative said right now, district officials simply don’t know. Not only do schools have until October 15 to certify their enrollment numbers, but also, families can leave the district without having to share a reason why.
Public schools may be waiting to see the impact, but private schools have already prepared for it.
“I’ve had to hire a couple of resource paras to help our resource teacher,” said Pospisil. “I did move one elementary teacher to the middle school, so that we could do a better job serving middle school kids. So I did have to hire an elementary teacher.”
“We’re going to have a lot of changes going on this this fall,” he added.
Iowa’s Department of Education said it has approved about 18,600 applications for ESAs. More than 1,300 of those students are in Linn County.
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