Growing Enrollment Numbers force Metro School District to Hire More Teachers

JOHNSTON, Iowa - School board members approved the addition of four new teachers to the Johnston School District on Monday, just days before the start of the school year.

School leaders say the district's student enrollment is increasing at a rate higher than expected, especially the incoming kindergarten class.

"Typically our kindergarten class numbers are around 570 -580 students. This year more than 600 students have enrolled," says district spokesperson, Laura Sprague.

District officials say the cause of growth is due to more housing availability and  new home construction. Janet Wilwerding, the city's spokesperson says the city grew from 17,278 in 2010 to 20,460 in 2016. The district's open enrollment is not a primary factor in the growth.

In order to accommodate the district's growth, it will place the teachers in kindergarten and first - grade classrooms in four of the district's five elementary buildings. Funding for two of teachers were already built into the school year's budget, the remaining two teaching positions will be funded by the district's transportation services fund.

While classes begin on August 24th, the district's Human Resources executive director says she has actively been recruiting teachers for the positions. The positions will be finalized by the end of the week.

At Monday's school board meeting, members did not ignore the fact that this growth spurt could cause long-term growing pains.

"As that class space gets tighter and we have more families coming in, they may not be at their neighborhood schools or in their elementary zones  due to how full the classes already are," says Sprague.

The district says it's standing behind its policy to cap the number of students in each classroom.