Enrollment in the Atlantic School District Continues to Increase, Classroom Space a Concern


September 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

While other school districts have seen a decline in student enrollment over the years, the classes continue to grow in the Atlantic Community School District. Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein to the Board of Education during their meeting Tuesday night at the High School, that as of Tuesday, the District has 1, 484 students, which is an increase of 59 students from what was certified last year at this same time. Amstein said if those numbers continue to hold, it wouldn’t surprise him if they have somewhere between 60 and 70 new students by the time the District actually certifies its numbers to the State at the beginning of next month. Amstein says for rural southwest Iowa, those types of numbers “Are basically unheard of,” and he’s “very pleased,” but he acknowledged it does “create problems,” as far as classroom space is concerned.

The subject of classroom space came up during discussion about the District’s Capital Needs 5-year Plan, at the end of the night’s meeting. Amstein said his priorities in their five-year plan include additional classroom space , and an overhaul of the Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) system at the high school, which are nearly the end of their expected life span. The plan tentatively includes additional classroom space at the high school for the 2014-2015 school year, which is expected to cost around $1-million. Matt Alexander, Schuler Principal and Curriculum Director, said if the enrollment numbers Principal Stacey Hornung is seeing in the Washington Elementary school continues to grow, he’ll need an additional six-to nine-classrooms in his facility by 2015. That means the district could be expanding its use of “Mobile classrooms,” but leads to the question of where those classrooms would be located. One factor that will help the District with its funding for those projects, is an expected increase in the School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) tax funds, which Amstein said will likely grow based on projections, and generate an additional $50- to $60,000 in revenue.

Kristy Pellett (left) is sworn-in as Atlantic Board of Ed. President for 2012-2013, by Board Secretary Mary Beth Fast, Tuesday night. (Ric Hanson photo)

In other business, the Atlantic School Board Tuesday, re-elected Kristy Pellett as Board President, and Dennis Davis as Vice-President, for the 2012-2013 school year. They also voted to approve Mary Beth Fast as Board Secretary, and Melinda McDermott as Treasurer. And, the Board opted to return to their Monday night at 7:30 twice monthly meetings, effective in October, instead of holding those meetings on Tuesday’s, at 7:30-p.m.