Editor’s Note: Student counts aren’t adding up
In this high-tech age, keeping track of students in real time shouldn’t be difficult. You wouldn’t think so, anyway.
Yet the state of Michigan hasn’t figured out how to do this in a way that reflects accurate student populations. Schools are still expected to base most of their annual funding from the state on seemingly random count days held twice a year. Since K-12 funding is tied to how many students are in a particular school, this is very important for a school’s bottom line.
With an increasing number of parents choosing schools outside their home district or a charter school, there is more fluidity among schools than in the past.
That’s why a change that made its way into this year’s school aid budget is particularly concerning. The Legislature is currently working on some supplemental items for the school fund, and it should address this problem.
In his proposed budget from early this year, Gov. Rick Snyder changed a section in the school budget so that the only schools to receive funding for new students who move into a school after the fall count day are strict disciplinary academies.
That means if a student switched districts for health or academic reasons, that new school would not be funded until the spring count day.
This isn’t fair to schools that are taking on additional students mid-year, and it could serve as a disincentive for schools to enroll new students. That’s bad news for school choice.
Lawmakers should fix this particular issue now, and the state should also tackle the bigger problem of how public schools keep track of students.