Second student count could affect school funding
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com March 10, 2013 11:03PM
Updated: April 12, 2013 6:15AM
Indiana conducted its second school enrollment count for the 2012-2013 school year a few weeks ago, and legislators are trying to figure out how those numbers will apply to the state funding formula.
Currently, the funding formula bases a district’s general fund allotment on a single day’s head count in September. But critics said that one-day snapshot gave an incomplete picture of a school’s enrollment. State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, and others argued for a second count, arguing it is common for Gary students to switch from charter schools to public schools during the school year.
Smith said there was a piece of House legislation that sought to tie both counts into the formula, but it died.
“There’s no bill with it at this point,” Smith said. “But I don’t know if there’s a plan to add it later.”
Public Law 144, which went into effect last March, established two count dates, but nothing in the funding formula was explicitly tied to the count. State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said legislators initially wanted to see if the data revealed what Smith and others argued.
The data isn’t available yet, but Charbonneau said it will likely be used to align education funding with the state’s fiscal year, which starts on July 1.
For example, Charbonneau said the September count date may determine Jan. 1 through June 30 funding, while the February date would determine July 1 through Dec. 31.
A brief issued last year by Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy discussed how nine other states have moved to multiple count dates because the process can provide more accurate and reliable data.
“Advocates of Multiple Count Dates have cited that it may also have an impact on student attrition since it provides a financial incentive to school corporations to retain students throughout the school year,” the brief said.