LANSING, Mich. — State legislators are considering increasing the number of count days to better allocate per-pupil state aid, according to MLive. Count days determine a school’s enrollment for the year, which in turn determines how much financial aid a district will receive from the state.

Currently, the state has just two count days during the school year and official enrollment figures are based 90 percent on the October headcount day and 10 percent on the count day in February. According to MLive, school leaders are concerned that increased student mobility means some schools aren’t receiving the funds they need for students who move after October while lawmakers are concerned the state is paying for hundreds of students who are no longer in a district.

MLive reports that Thomas Howell, director of the state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information, told the House Appropriations Committee that about 35,000 students change districts after the fall count, which represents about 2.2 percent of statewide enrollment.

Chairman Bill Rogers, R-Brighton, thinks increasing the frequency of count days would not represent too large a burden to schools as they already have the technology to perform additional count days, according to MLive.

“When you visit a class, it seems the first thing you see a teacher do at the start of each class period is punch attendance numbers into a computer,” he said. “That information has to go somewhere.”

But school administrators objected, saying that those headcounts were simply to ensure they knew if the district was missing any children just for that day. According to MLive, count day data is collected separately and must be audited by an outside authority.

SOURCE:

MLive, “Michigan House committee asks whether more frequent student headcounts would lead to fairer funding,” March 6, 2012

FURTHER READING:

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Pupil Count Day,” Sept. 30, 2009

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