Students attendance impacts school district funding

TOPEKA (KSNT) – All across Kansas Monday schools were taking head counts. That’s because it was “Count Day,” one of the most important days for school districts.

Every year the state picks one, day generally Sept. 20th or the nearest week day, to count the number of children attending each classroom of every school.

The numbers in these class rooms are critical.

“They find out how much money they can spend out of their general fund,” says Micheal Murphy, director of fisical auditing.

In the Auburn-Washburn district, the state gives 3,852 dollars for every full time student.

The district projects enrollment and estimates how much money the state will give them to cover the school year, counting day shows whether the estimate was right.

If it comes up short, the district faces the possibility of having to cut programs or increase class sizes.

Brenda Sietrich, superintendent of the Auburn-Washburn District says, “what most districts do is if they expect to have student growth they’ll budget for that but they wont spend it.”

Each district also has to account for students with special needs, English as a second language students and even the number attending kindergarten.

For students that are absent on “count day” the schools are given a grace period to account for those kids until October 10th. If the district ends up with surplus money at the end of the year, they generally hold onto it for the next year.

A new state task force is looking into why so many districts are carrying over surpluses. The department of education says they’re increasing every year.

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