Student diversity on the rise in Iowa City schools

The Iowa City Community School District’s 2022-23 enrollment report showed levels of student diversity are steadily increasing from school year to school year.


Grace Kreber

The Iowa City Community School District sign in Iowa City is seen on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

Iowa City K-12 public schools reported higher levels of diversity in its student enrollment during the 2021-22 school year but also saw decreases in certain racial groups.

The increase follows a trend the Iowa City Community School District has seen in recent years.

According to the district’s enrollment report released this year, the number of students who identify as multi-racial, Black, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander/other increased during the 2021-22 school year:

  • The total number of Black students enrolled increased from 3,185 to 3,343.
  • The total number of Hispanic students enrolled increased from 1,891 to 1,945.
  • The total number of multi-racial students enrolled increased from 903 to 938.
  • The total number of Pacific Islander students enrolled increased from 17 to 26.

This increase can be attributed to more diversity overall in Iowa City, Iowa City Community School District School Board members say. Ruthina Malone, Iowa City Community School District School Board president, said she sees this growth as a positive sign for the district.

“If you see that growth, that’s a signal that you hopefully are doing something right,” Malone said. “That people seek you out as a destination, either town or educational system, and they trust the processes and systems you have in place, and that they can entrust their most precious gift, that being their child and their future.”

The number of Black students has been steadily increasing since 1999, while the number of multi-racial students has consistently risen since the 2011-12 school year.

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Iowa City Community School Board Vice President Lisa Williams said the district also has initiatives that help spur diversity among students and staff. This includes the Grow Our Own Program, which focuses on retaining people of color as educators. 

“I believe strongly in if you see it, you can be it,” Williams said.  “And because of that, it’s really important that our teaching staff and other people that are in the schools look like our students.”

The representation of some racial groups, however, declined. The number of white, Asian, and Native American/Alaskan students decreased during the 2021-22 school year, as it has for the past three years over the entire school district: 

  • The total number of white students enrolled decreased from 7,988 to 7,894.
  • The total number of Asian students enrolled decreased from 786 to 752 .
  • The total number of Native American/Alaskan students enrolled decreased from 29 to 23.

Malone said while the increased numbers of other racial groups is celebrated, she knows there is still work to be done.

“We will never be 100 percent perfect in our systems when it comes to DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we recognize that, we accept that, and we’re always striving to further improve upon that,” Malone said.