CLINTON — As Iowa’s schools added up their enrollment for official counts this week, Clinton School District numbers were pointing to a loss of 109 students when compared with figures from a year ago.

It’s a decrease the district’s superintendent says can’t be blamed on open enrollment, but rather on continuing population losses that have been recorded countywide since 1980.

“That (the loss) looks like a real reflection of what is happening countywide and communitywide,” Clinton School District Superintendent Gary DeLacy told the Clinton School Board. “Because they (the students) are just not even living here. This is not like they chose to live somewhere else. They are not living here at all.”

He detailed certified enrollment figures that show the Clinton School District had 3,732 students a year ago compared with this year’s count of 3,623 students.

But while the numbers are down, he said the good news is there are fewer students open enrolling out of the district, and more students open enrolling into Clinton schools, in 2019 than there were in 2018.

According to the data he sent to the state Tuesday, 63 students open enrolled into Clinton schools this year, compared with 59 last year. A total of 385 students who live in the Clinton School District are open enrolled into other districts this year. That is four less than last year’s count of 389 students.

He said the stability in open enrollment figures means the loss in student enrollment has to be blamed on Clinton County’s overall population decline. He also referenced an Iowa Data Center report released in April that indicated Clinton County not only was one of 69 counties in Iowa that had lost population since 2010, but that it also had had the largest decline.

Population trends

According to the Iowa Data Center’s website, Clinton County’s highest population count was in 1980, when 57,122 lived in the county.

By 2018, it was 46,518 – down 2,598 people from 2010’s count of 49,116. That decline equaled about 5% of the county’s population.

By comparison, the city of Clinton’s population peaked in 1970 at 34,719. It was 25,184 in 2018.

The Clinton School District’s drop is mimicking city and county losses: There are 873 less students today than in 2010 when certified enrollment stood at 4,111.

In dealing with the decline, DeLacy said the district is in a good financial position, but will have to start looking at making adjustments that would possibly include an early retirement incentive to stem potential layoffs.