By Crystal Hayduk
Although students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the Chelsea School District were counted on Oct. 2, the state’s official Count Day, students in 9th through 12th grades were counted on Oct. 3.
The high school was placed on lockdown and classes were canceled on Oct. 2 during further investigation of a written bomb threat that was discovered by a school custodian the evening of Oct. 1. (Related story here.)
The district obtained a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education to permit the high school student count to take place on Oct. 3.
According to Superintendent Julie Helber, the unofficial projected Chelsea School District student count is 2,449 – five more than the October, 2018 count of 2,444; and 13 more than the official count of 2,436 students last February.
This number includes 32 School of Choice students – eight from last year and 25 who registered this year.
Funding for school districts is based on a blended count. The state uses 10 percent of the student count from the previous February, and 90 percent of the October student count to calculate the State Aid the district will receive for the current school year.
Helber said that the preliminary budget for the current year reflects an expected “flat” student enrollment compared to last year.
“Our Young 5’s program, foreign exchange program and limited school of choice contribute about 60 students to our total enrollment,” said Helber. “Without these programs, it is estimated that we would be down, conservatively, at least 50 students, equating to approximately $406,900.
“We are seeing an uptick in residential development in Chelsea and anticipate that enrollment will increase with these community factors, but for now we are thankful to have students and parents interested in the three aforementioned programs and board support for these programs to help maintain our budget.”
Helber said the final numbers for district funding aren’t available yet. She estimates that the district will likely receive a Foundation Allowance of $8,138 per pupil, an increase of $237 since last year. “While increases are certainly welcomed, it does not fix the problem for adequate funding for education in the State of Michigan,” she said.
An accurate student count translates to dollars for the district, according to www.Michigan.gov.
Students with an excused absence on Count Day may still be counted if they attend for an entire day within 30 days.
The next legislated count day will be Feb. 12, 2020.