Jul 22, 2021 - News
More Des Moines students leave district than predicted
Illustration of two backpacks; one empty and one stuffed with cash.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Nearly 400 Des Moines students have applied for open enrollment to leave the school district for the upcoming school year, reports the Quad-City Times.

Why it matters: It was predicted Des Moines would lose 360 students, equating to $2.7 million. That number is higher now — further straining a financially struggling district.

State of play: Des Moines schools were historically allowed to deny open enrollment requests to maintain socioeconomic equity.

  • In the district, about 75% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch — a much higher number than surrounding districts.
  • But in May, a Republican-led law went into effect that eliminated Des Moines and four other school districts' abilities to deny requests based on trying to maintain diversity.

The big picture: Iowa Republicans made a hard push for school choice this last year, saying families should be in control of how and where students receive their education.

  • But Democrats have said the law will further financial and cultural inequities in schools as richer families leave for the suburbs.
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