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Posted on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Count Day 2012: Schools poised to make each student count

By Danielle Arndt


The more students that show up for class on Wednesday, the more money Michigan public school districts and charter academies receive in funding from the state. file photo

Attendance matters in public school districts and charter academies across the state of Michigan Wednesday.

The number of students in seats at public institutions today equates to a minimum of $6,966 in per-pupil funding this year — up from the minimum of $6,846 per student last year.

The per-pupil foundation allowance, which is distributed from the Michigan School Aid Fund, is a district's largest source of revenue each fiscal year.

Districts also receive funding from local and federal sources and can be eligible for limited categorical grant money from the state, such as for special education, adult education, preschool programs, vocational education and helping at-risk students.

Ann Arbor Public Schools, Washtenaw County’s largest district, will receive $9,020 per student for the 2012-13 academic year. The total number of students used in the state’s funding calculation is based on a blended count from both winter and fall student count days.

Fall Count Day carries the most weight, accounting for 90 percent of the blended total, whereas Winter Count Day, which occurred on Feb. 8, represents 10 percent of the final total population. Districts and charter schools have 10 days to report their enrollments to the Michigan Department of Education following the fall count day.

In fiscal year 2012, Ann Arbor Public Schools’ blended count was 16,658 students. These pupils generated more than $150 million in revenue for AAPS, nearly 82 percent of the district's approximately $183 million operating budget in 2011-12.

Most of the smaller districts in Washtenaw County are projecting a loss in students this fall, but hoping for a gain. Declining enrollment has been the trend in public schools statewide for the past few years.

Saline Area Schools assistant superintendent and spokesman Steve Laatsch said the district budgeted for a loss of 50 to 70 students this Count Day. Losing 70 students at a rate of $7,173 per pupil would equate to a loss of more than $502,000 in revenue for SAS.

Laatsch said the district has had smaller incoming kindergarten classes the past two years than it has had outgoing senior classes, causing the decline. Saline’s enrolling kindergarteners have totaled 300 to 350, while its graduating seniors have totaled 400 to 450, he said.

Lincoln Consolidated Schools budgeted for a 4.5 percent decrease in enrollment compared to last year, said Superintendent Ellen Bonter. A 4.5 percent decrease would equate to about 206 students or $1.43 million in lost revenue.

Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts have lost the greatest number of students in the past two years and are projecting significant losses again this year. These districts receive $7,513 and $7,310 per pupil, respectively.

Washtenaw County charter schools have grown in enrollment by more than 28 percent in the past two years.

Visit late Wednesday afternoon for Count Day data as collected by Washtenaw County’s charter academies and public school districts.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Angry Moderate

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 9:31 p.m.

"Count Day" is just a terrible system all around. The teachers already take attendance every day, and some of them already do it on a computer instead of on paper. There should be a simple online form where teachers mark students as absent after each class, and attendance information can automatically be sent to the principal, the state government, the parents of absent students, etc. Knowing how the school system works, they'll probably never do this. And if they do, a consultant will charge them $5 million to set it up.


Sat, Oct 6, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

There is a simple online system where attendance is digitally recorded daily. It's called PowerSchool and every AAPS teacher uses it for every class every day.

Bruce Geffen

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

Yep - and right after count day when the checks are issued, these Charter academies will start reducing their student rolls. It happens around here all the time. They ditch the lower performing students between count day and MEAPS. Then they keep all but 20% of the per pupil funding awarded. Basically - they are getting paid 80% of per pupil funding for NOT teaching kids, while our public schools get the other 20% to compensate them for taking in the poor kid that got bounced out of the charter and actually teaching that child. What a racket. We need the parents of the students bounced out of these charters to start standing up and telling their stories loudly.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

At my AAPS high school, students would skip class to hang out in the library. Once per semester on count day, the librarians would check every single person's student ID and schedule to see if they were supposed to be in class. The rest of the time they didn't care (not that I disagree--hanging out in the library is more educational than going to most classes).


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

I do know they do this. Especially the ones who who rarely show up or are a problem within their system.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

I see you have no comment on non-charter schools that bribe kids with free designer shoes, pizza, and iPod lotteries on count day just to get them to show up one time, then stop caring attendance as soon as they get the cash.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

This is why AAPS doesn't have a system in place to weed out the students who scam the attendance system. There are plenty of students who live with "uncles" and "cousins" who live in the boundary areas, but no one checks to make sure these are relatives and that the students are actually living at the residence. Plenty of scamming going on. But, it means more students and more money!!!


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

They do have a system in place. It people like us who get stuff in the mail using our Ann Arbor addresses to scam the system if they do not belong there.. Also, there is no scam in place. Ann Arbor is school choice. So the scam is on you not anyone who is using the system to benefit themselves.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

Forgive me for the idealism but whether it is more money, or less money the objective is, at the end of the day, the most accurate allocation of our tax dollars. Taking that measurement on one day each semester is something only an unaccountable [redundant?] bureaucrat could divine.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

I wonder how much of that cost per pupil goes to the Teacher's Union pension fund??


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

"Declining enrollment has been the trend in public schools statewide for the past few years." Demographics, that is, the raw numbers of children in the state, surely play a role in that trend, is there also a trend of families rejecting the traditional public school system? The related article points to significant increase in charter school enrollment. What are enrollment trends in other private and parochial schools? Are all of the numbers connected entirely to demographics, or is something else happening?


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

Plenty of bad public schools in Michigan, including AAPS. There are wide discrepancies between schools in the district, and in other districts. Parents want choices and privates fill that need. Population is declining in the state, and fewer grads are staying. Much of the influx to A2 is transient, ugrads, grad students, or short term researchers, etc. They come for a few years, some are families, and then they move on.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Some of it is demographics. Charter enrollment went up to the cap and stayed there early in the recent recession, as many families who preferred it could no longer afford private schools. Now that the cap is off charter schools, some of the thousands of students who have been on waiting lists are finding places in the schools their parents believe are better than the more-convenient public school alternatives. There are no "count days" for private schools, but anecdotal evidence says they have seen some increases in enrollment the last 2 years, as Michigan's economy has been improving.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 2 p.m.

The economy sucks in Michigan. This is why enrollment is down. No jobs to be had and people are leaving in droves that need a job. Otherwise, if you are a senior? No problem there.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

Count "Day". Hmmm. . . as the student count is the single most important factor for district funding there seems to be too much opportunity for both intended, and unintended, outcomes, i.e. "gaming the system" when there is a single data point in the analysis, particularly in the smaller population schools such as the Charters. . . Shouldn't we be monitoring the population over some longer time period to produce a more relevant measured sample to dole out our tax dollars? For example count one day a week for four weeks each semester and then average the result. It wouldn't be that much more work for a dedicated administrative staff intereested in the best interests and outcomes of the students. . . . Oh! mmmmm. . . .nevermind


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

I know of one charter school in Dearborn that gives children an A just for showing up on count day. How sad is that? There is another count day in February. This clinches it for the coming year on student enrollment count.


Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

I hate when I see reports on the news where they have to offer incentives like winning new sneakers or an iPad to get kids to come to school for that one day.