STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

It's almost 'count day' for Michigan school districts

user Renato Ganoza

  Count Day is almost upon us. This Wednesday, schools across Michigan will throw pizza parties and hold other special events to entice kids to come to school. That's because "Fall Count Day" determines 90% of per pupil funding for the current academic years. (The remaining 10% is determined by another 'count day' in February.) 

With dozens of districts facing dwindling enrollment and increased competition from charter schools, Count Day is priority uno for so many districts. Get 100 kids to show up at school on Wednesday for Count Day? You get money for 100 kids - no more, no less - even if 150 kids show up on Thursday. 

As I've mentioned a couple times on this blog, I'm following two schools for an hour-long State of Opportunity radio show that's coming up late next month. Perhaps it will come as no surprise that the staff at the lower-income school I'm following has been talking about Count Day for weeks now. Their district, like so many districts across Michigan, rely on every last dollar they can get. And with enrollment dwindling, budgets are super tight. The upper-income school I'm following hasn't mentioned it to me once, perhaps because their enrollment has been on the rise over the last several years, perhaps because they have a little more breathing room with their budget.

I'm curious: What do you think about Count Day? Do you think it's fair? Do you think there's  a better way to determine per pupil allotments?

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx.