The number of students districts receive a foundation allowance for is determined by how many students attend school on two “count days,” one in October and one in February. During the 2012-13 school year, the October count made up 90 percent of a district’s overall enrollment figure, and the February count made up the remaining 10 percent. Nonresident students enrolling through Schools of Choice are accounted for using this same methodology.
Using count days to determine funding for school districts is a high-stakes game: Districts must have a student in attendance on those two particular days in order to receive full funding on behalf of that student.[*] This practice also discourages districts from enrolling students through Schools of Choice during the second half of the school year, because those students only count towards 10 percent of a district’s total enrollment figure.
The 2012-13 State School Aid Act, in a section intended to take effect during the 2013-14 school year, attempts to improve the way students are counted for the purposes of determining state aid to districts. It allows districts to claim the nonresident students they enroll after count days in order to receive a proration of the school aid payment associated with that student. The mechanics of how this will be accomplished, however, still have not been addressed. During the 2013-14 school year, attendance on the October count day still determined 90 percent of a district’s overall count.
[*] Exceptions are made for students with excused or unexcused absences, as well as students who were suspended.