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A Few Facts

About UEN

Together the 8 largest districts in Iowa’s urban communities with 2 or more high schools and 9 Associate Member districts of the UEN:

  • Enroll 34.0% of Iowa's 504,063 PK-12 students
  • Enroll 57.6% of Iowa's PK-12 students of color, including 74.2% of African American students and 52.2% of Iowa’s PK-12 Hispanic Students
  • Enroll 60.6% of Iowa's limited English speaking students
  • Serve 43.7% of Iowa's K-12 low-income students (UEN enrollment of Free and Reduced Lunch eligible students is 55.0% of total UEN enrollment compared to the statewide average of 42.9%.)
  • Employ 33.4% of Iowa's PK-12 certified staff
  • Employ 26.2% of Iowa’s school principals with an average contract length of 14.2 days more than the state average contract length.
  • Establish and assertively support an annual legislative agenda
  • Provide testimony regarding administrative rules development and other executive branch actions impacting urban education.
  • Provide job-alike networking and professional development free to member districts
  • Offer highly comprehensive and quality curriculum options to all students
  • Share best practices and learn together regarding finance, educational
    program, special education, equity, human resources, communications and
    school services such as health services and food and nutrition through
    regular job-alike professional development and networking groups at no cost to
    member districts
  • Contract with many other school districts to deliver education classes to students (i.e., special education, talented and gifted, career and technical education, on-line learning, etc.)
  • Address the challenge of changing demographics on a daily basis
  • Actively participate with local, regional and statewide organizations addressing the education agenda in Iowa
  • Conduct ongoing practical research seeking answers to many challenges facing the students, staff and parents in Iowa's urban centers
  • Identify and address major educational challenges, i.e. student achievement, teacher and administrator leadership, dropout prevention, career and technical as well as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, facilities, finance, technology, early literacy and early childhood

The UEN continues to grow and become more effective. Strong leadership, continuing support of the membership and focused program priorities are moving the UEN toward a broader and even more viable presence. Member district involvement and leadership of school board members and superintendents is fundamental to the life and success of the Network. The concept of the UEN is unique and is based upon the interaction and support systems of our eight founding member districts, collaborating with other urban schools as our affiliate members. Together, we address many challenges, unite to resolve common concerns and grow to become even more effective in serving all our students and communities.


UEN Represents:

  • 291 school attendance centers, or 23.4% of state total K-12 attendance centers, including:

32 High Schools
46 Jr. High/Middle Schools
205 Elementary Schools
2 Special Education Schools
6 Alternative Schools

  • Additional specialized schools not included in the above, including:

2 Charter School
11 Early Childhood Centers
2 Others


Common Characteristics of Urban Schools:

  • Population density
  • Cultural, social and economic diversity
  • Broad ethnic representation
  • Extensive transportation systems
  • Two or more comprehensive high schools and/or 10,000 or more students
  • 4,000 or more students or districts with 3,000 students combined with 40% or more of the student population identified as free/reduced price lunch eligible students for associate membership

Member Districts:

Cedar Rapids
Council Bluffs
Des Moines Independent
Iowa City
Sioux City

Associate Member Districts: Member Districts:

Cedar Falls
Fort Dodge
Mason City
Southeast Polk

Updated November 2019 with most recent statewide data available.

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