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School districts participate in Enrollment Count Day

School districts participate in Enrollment Count Day

Sept. 20 count helps determine funding for districts

With the first day of school several weeks behind us and fall looming, staff members from Kansas schools were busy on Wednesday, Sept. 20, counting students for Enrollment Count Day.  

Kansas statute designates Sept. 20 as Enrollment Count Day, the date used to determine the number of students regularly enrolled for funding purposes. If the 20th doesn’t fall on a school day, the count day moves to the first school day following the 20th. 

A school’s general fund budget is determined by taking the district’s total adjusted weighted enrollment, times the base aid for student excellence (BASE). For the 2023-2024 school year, the BASE is $5,088. 

Other states have Count Days, too. However, they take different approaches on how to count students. There are at least 11 states, including Kansas, and the District of Columbia that use the count from a single day. Others use a membership average, counts from multiple days, attendance average or an enrollment count period, according to the Education Commission of the States. 

To help districts prepare for Enrollment Count Day, Laurel Murdie, director of Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Fiscal Auditing, and Kyle Lord, assistant director of KSDE Information Technology, offered 12 free Counting KIDS Workshops in August and September. 

Workshops took place at various schools, district offices and service centers across the state. In total, about 760 superintendents, board clerks, data clerks and others attended the workshops. 

 The KSDE workshops have been taking place for many years, Murdie said. About 20 years ago, some districts in the Wichita area asked for a special session to help explain the various criteria for counting students for enrollment and what data to have prepared for the KSDE audit. 

“The director at the time agreed the sessions were a good idea,” Murdie said. “Rather than limiting the workshop sessions to those districts that asked, all area districts were invited to attend. Afterward, because the feedback was so positive, various session locations were offered throughout the state in the years following. We are trying to help districts receive all the state aid they are entitled to. There are a lot of funding streams that have different criteria.” 

For example, the Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act includes specific provisions for weighted enrollments, including but not limited to at-risk, high density at-risk, bilingual,CTE and transportation. 

In fact, the KSDE Enrollment Handbook used by school districts to help count students is more than 50 pages in length. 

During the workshops. Murdie discussed the criteria for counting students on Count Day and how the information is uploaded into the Kansas Individual Data on Students (KIDS) system.  

To count a student for funding purposes, the student must be enrolled and attending on Count Day. However, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if a student is absent on Count Day, the student can still be counted if he or she is enrolled on Count Day and attends at least once prior to Sept. 20 and once after Sept. 20 – but it must be before Oct. 4. 

A two-day attendance rule and special documentation is required for students attending virtual schools/programs and alternative schools. 

Virtual school/program students aren’t included in the regular enrollment of a district for funding purposes. However, separate funding for virtual students is available. 

Special guidelines must be followed to provide alternative learning services to students and to include alternative students in enrollment for funding. 

Lord discussed measures to enhance data privacy and the transition from the KIDS data system to the Kansas Education Data Systems (KEDS) data system, which is currently being piloted. 

Once enrollment data is uploaded to KIDS, KSDE field auditors review it to verify the total adjusted weighted enrollment reported by each of Kansas’ 286 unified school districts. 

“There is also a quality-of-service component to it,” Murdie said about the audits.  

For example, KSDE field auditors ensure district staff members have the correct endorsement to teach specific areas, such as English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). 

Field auditors also review school bus safety records for each district. 

When field auditors are finished, districts receive a preliminary draft for review before the audits are submitted to KSDE’s School Finance team for review. Murdie also reviews finalized audits. 

All audits must be finished by late April, according to Murdie. 

The Fiscal Auditing team is comprised of 14 auditors, Murdie and Peggy Hill, public service administrator for the team. 

“Overall, the feedback receive is very positive,” Murdie said about the workshops and her team.  

Posted: Sep 21, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush
Tags: KIDS

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