COUNCIL BLUFFS — The Council Bluffs school board has agreed to pay an Omaha-based marketing firm, Bailey Lauerman, $25,000 to develop solutions to encourage families to keep their students enrolled in the Bluffs district.
Open enrollment in Iowa allows students to enroll in any school district they wish. State funding follows the students.
Diane Ostrowski, chief communications officer for the Bluffs district, said school officials do not oppose open enrollment but are concerned about an increasing number of students who choose other school districts. That loss has created a significant financial impact on the district.
In the 2013 school year, 707 students living in the Council Bluffs district — between 7 and 8 percent of the district’s total — chose to attend school in other districts in southwest Iowa, including Lewis Central, Glenwood, Treynor, Tri-Center and Underwood. About 174 students opted into Council Bluffs from other districts. At about $6,000 per student, that equated to a net loss of about $3.2 million in state funding.
“We believe Iowans want choices where their children can attend school,” Ostrowski said, “but we want to make sure we understand why families are choosing to leave our school district.”
Bailey Lauerman will conduct a 12-week study to research, develop strategies and collect data to help learn what is causing students to enroll in other school districts. The firm will work alongside a team led by Bluffs principals and administrators. They also will conduct interviews and focus groups to gather information.