In 2013, due to the City of Adel extending their tax abatement program, the Adel-DeSoto-Minburn Community School District had an enrollment projection done, which showed them reaching their capacity of about 2,100 students by the 2022-23 school year. This resulted in the 2014 bond referendum which allowed them to build additions on to all four school buildings in the district.
With growth continuing in the City of Adel, and the city proposing an annexation of more than 1,000 acres south of town, the school district had a “refreshed” enrollment projection done by RSP and Associates in February, and the numbers were even higher than the last time. The projection now estimates the district will have over 2,300 students by the 2021-22 school year, up from about 1,830 now.
A-D-M Superintendent Greg Dufoe said that the growth has been positive for the City of Adel and it has been positive for the School District, but the “rate of growth is concerning.”
If the new projection were to hold true, they would need to build a new facility before that time.
“We’d be looking at a building project no later than that time frame if those play true. We have to work on an additional building before that,” said A-D-M Superintendent Greg Dufoe. “And, really, in our financial planner, really the best case scenario is in four or five years.”
Dufoe said he doesn’t know yet what kind of building they would work on, but it would likely be an elementary building since their highest numbers are in the elementary grades.
The new projection caused the A-D-M School District to do things. They approved a prepayment on their existing bond issue debt as a part of next year’s budget, and they closed open enrollment for all grades for the next school year.
The prepayment on the debt was about $280,000.
“We need to rebuild our bonding capacity before we can build a new building,” Dufoe said.
Closing open enrollment does not stop those already open enrolled into the district from continuing their education at A-D-M, and younger siblings of those students will also be allowed to open enroll in when they get to be school aged.
With closing open enrollment, the school district will miss out on “miscellaneous income,” which is state aid that follows a student who open enrolls into another district.
“So we’ll lose revenue based on denying open enrollment in to students for next year, but we needed to balance that with trying to match our value of low class sizes and try to extend the window in which we have to plan for a new facility,” Dufoe said.
The School Board wrote a letter to the Adel City Council, stating what they’ve done to manage the growth and stressing a desire to work with the city through the process.
Dufoe said that they are asking the Council for conversations on how to make the growth and potential annexation a “win-win” for the City and the School District.
“I don’t think any of us know what that is right now, but I think that exists,” Dufoe said.
The Adel City Council is holding a public hearing on the proposed annexation at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 13 at the Adel Public Library and Dufoe will be in attendance.
In the letter from the A-D-M School Board to the Adel City Council, the School Board states that they are not anti-growth.
“Our position is that we’re not anti-growth, but we are concerned that the rate of growth in the next three to five years will be beyond our previous projection, and thus we’ll see increases in class size before we can build again,” Dufoe said.
Dufoe says that growth is what allows the school to increase and add programs, despite low supplemental aid from the state.
The best-case scenario for the district would be to grow to about 2,100 students by 2022-23, like the original projection in 2013 showed.
“That’s still quite a bit of growth,” Dufoe said.
“Our class sizes would grow, but yet to a much lesser degree than the class sizes will be if the new projections are accurate.”
With the way the growth in the district has been going so far, they have been able to keep some of their small school value at about 1,830 students.
“I do not feel like that’s a large school system,” Dufoe said. “We still at this point have been able to hold onto the features of a relatively small school system.
Dufoe said the A-D-M School District views the growth as an opportunity.
“It will look different in the future, but it’s a future that we’re just really excited about.”