From Chicago to Ankeny, Iowa, the school systems are a lot more similar than what you might expect. Dr. Erick Pruitt, Superintendent of the Ankeny Community School District, says he’s no longer allowed to call himself “the new guy.” Going into his second year, he discusses Ankeny and Chicago similarities, the school choice bill, parental involvement, and how to gain back enrollment numbers.
Dr. Erick Pruitt, Superintendent of the Ankeny Community School District
Joining a school district in the aftermath of COVID-19 is no easy task. Pruitt discussed what has changed since the pandemic, and how the district is bouncing back.
Enrollment rates were down last year, but they are already seeing a clear increase at a growth rate of 3%. For comparison, before the pandemic Ankeny was accustomed to around a 7% enrollment rate. Pruitt says the district is quickly recovering k after such a trying time. The district was even able to break ground on their twelfth elementary school this past week, scheduled to open in 2024.
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Pruitt on Senate File 2369
Funding was also a topic he explored. It’s well known, Senate File 2369, passed by the legislature, has its proponents and critics. Proponents see it as providing education options for children, whereas critics say the bill funnels money to private schools. Dr. Pruitt has a different perspective: as a Marine, he’s not one to back down from good competition.
His primary concern, however, is on-time funding, making sure ACSD is receiving enough money for every student. When a student is enrolled, leaves the district, and ends up returning, there are concerns on ife funding follows the student immediately. This may put districts in a challenging position of having enrolled students, with no funding to support their education. Pruitt’s number one goal is to make sure all the needs of every student are met, and a lack of funding could make that more challenging.
Teacher Burnout and Parental Involvement
Pruitt put an emphasis on the Ankeny community. With a recent NEA poll showing 90% of teachers want to leave the field, or feel burned out, he acknowledged the challenge of staffing. He discussed why it’s important to set teachers up for an environment they want to work within and having their back.
Pruitt also addressed working with parents so they are involved in their child’s education. He stressed access to access school officials, teachers, and how they’ve outlined a process where parents have feedback on curriculum. To ensure students are receiving the best education to meet their own individual needs, Pruitt also highlighted the challenge that no student is the same and should not be expected to learn the same way.