In the next couple of months, districts around the state will be working through their budget processes. Enrollment will be a common factor in all of these discussions. For that reason, I’d like to take a moment and explain the mechanism for determining enrollment as it is used in budgeting.
Every October school districts in Alaska conduct the “October Count Period” process. This is a statutory mechanism for determining the amount of funding based on actual student enrollment over a twenty-day period (AS14.03.070, AS14.03.080, AS14.03.180).
This year the process began on September 30, 2013 and ended on October 25, 2013. Each day enrollment (not attendance) is calculated on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis. That means each full-time enrolled student is counted as 1. Some students dual enroll in a homeschool program and a local school and thus count for only a partial FTE. For example, a student only taking three classes would count as a .75 FTE. Each school is allowed to count only the classes actually taken through their program.
At the end of the twenty days enrollment is averaged to determine the “Average Daily Membership” or ADM. The image on the left shows the actual enrollment form submitted to EED. You can view the enrollment form and a graph showing our enrollment history by visiting our website, clicking on Departments < Superintendent’s Office.
This year, our enrollment at the end of the twenty-day count period came in at 443.76 students. Last year’s enrollment at the same time was 487.30. These numbers are entered into a formula (subject of future post) that modifies the number used to determine “basic need” for funding purposes (14.17.410).
The financial, programatic, and practical implications of our enrollment are a frequent topic of conversation in our offices, schools and community. I’ll use future posts to address as many of them as I can.
While looking at the reality of our enrollment decline, it is important to remember numbers do not represent value. Our students are our treasure, whether we have 4, 444 or 4,444. Our educational responsibility is for each and every individual student. For now, we thankfully have at least 444 excellent reasons for the hard work CRSD employees do each and every day.