Jesup Community Schools experiencing an enrollment boom - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Jesup Community Schools experiencing an enrollment boom

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JESUP (KWWL) -

A rural eastern Iowa school district is facing a rather unique problem. While the majority of small communities in the state are dealing with a shrinking population, enrollment is up at Jesup Community School District.

Heather Hansen and her husband are among the young families choosing to relocate in a small community.

"We're born and raised in Wisconsin. My husband is a manager at Lowe's in Waterloo and his parents live in Independence," said Hansen, mother of two elementary students.

Before moving here two years ago, Hansen came to Jesup for her nephew's school events.

After a couple visits, she said she realized, "that's exactly what I wanted for my kids too."

So you can include Hansen's kids in Jesup's enrollment boom.  Superintendent Nathan Marting said this year alone, the district added an additional class in both kindergarten and first grade. Meaning, in both grade levels, they went from three classrooms to four, with about 20 students in each room.

Many parents KWWL talked with Friday said they moved to the area specifically to send their children to Jesup schools. They also like that the town is close to Waterloo, but still maintains a small community feel.

The increased enrollment is great for Jesup -- but in the immediate future, it poses a few problems for the district. Like, where to put all the extra kids in an already full building

"Creativity and innovation are the two things we go by. If you walk around the building you will not see an empty room. You will not see an empty space. And unfortunately, we've reached the point where you will not see an empty closet or storage room," said Elementary School Principal Brian Pottebaum.

For now, they have classrooms in offices, offices in closets, and closets in boxes. But that is just a temporary fix. Marting and Pottebaum said, the solution is to expand.

"We're looking at an early learning center that will house our pre-K and kindergarten grades. And it is needed," said Pottebaum.

"Fortunately, we will not have to raise taxes or pursue a bond. We're able to use our state-wide penny tax dollar instead," Marting added.

In addition to the early learning center, the district is planning to build an athletic center, a transportation garage, and renovate its high school science rooms. The projects will cost about $7 million, and construction is set to start this spring.

In the meantime, Hansen is grateful the district found room for her kids. She said, they don't seem to notice the squeeze.

"My kids love it. They love coming to school everyday," Hansen added.

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