Senate Subcommittee Considers Change to Count Days
On Wednesday, lawmakers took testimony on the feasibility of moving to more frequent student counts. Particularly in light of recent and ongoing changes to charter and cyber school laws, lawmakers are looking to get a more accurate picture of the numbers of students in a given district.
During the hearing, representatives from the MDE testified that more frequent counts are possible given the current state system. One official suggested that as many as eleven pupils counts per year could be conducted to correspond to the eleven state aid payments made to schools.
However, as Rebecca Rocho, who oversees pupil accounting auditors at Calhoun Intermediate School District, pointed out to the committee in response to MDE’s testimony, the current count system already requires full-time, year-long work for local school district and intermediate school district staff without adding new count days. She also pointed out that the data collected goes well beyond student attendance and that districts collect the data for a variety of internal and external purposes in systems that do not directly connect to the state data system.
Rocho said more frequent counts would be possible if the state reduced the information that had to be tracked for each student, but added that would also mean reducing the mobility options for students.
MDE officials also pointed out that, at least statewide, pupil mobility is not as substantial as has been portrayed. This means that the financial impact to individual districts could be minimal, particularly compared to the cost of additional counts.