Attendance losses continue in Roseville, East Detroit

Student count to continue until November

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 22, 2015

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EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — East Detroit and Roseville schools saw the decline of student numbers continue this fall, as school districts across the state held the fall count day Oct. 7.

Count days are used to determine how many students a district has for funding purposes. There are two each year: a spring count day and a fall count day, with the fall day accounting for 90 percent of state funding. The number is then blended with the spring count from the same calendar year to determine the final funding levels from the state.

In East Detroit Public Schools, the district had 3,240 students in attendance on count day, according to Superintendent Ryan McLeod. The district originally had budgeted for 3,308 students, a number that was already around 200 students below the 2014 count.

McLeod cautioned that this is not the final number, as districts can continue to count students who start school later in the year or who were absent for 30 days. It is nevertheless currently a lower number than the school board was expecting.

The district should not have a budget crisis based on less funding, McLeod said, since East Detroit is no longer in deficit and has a fund balance to help as a cushion.

“Financially, I don’t think we’re going to be in a bad spot — I think we’re going to be OK,” McLeod said. “It’s a much bigger deal when you’re in a deficit. I think the fact we have a small fund balance will help us get through this; it gives us time to adjust and make sure we right-size our staff based on what our enrollment looks like.”

East Detroit is estimating that it will receive $7,715 per pupil from the state this year. Michigan had not finalized the amount of money it will disburse to districts as of press time; the state’s budget does not have to be finalized and passed until Oct. 31.

At Roseville Community Schools, the district’s October count came in at 4,941 students, according to Assistant Superintendent Diane Kott. Kott said that was a loss of 76 students from October 2014, which is still fewer students than the district had expected to lose.

“We budgeted for a loss of 100, so we came in a little bit better than we budgeted for,” Kott said. “So that was happy, though it’s never happy when you lose students.”

Kott said she is estimating that the district should receive about $7,600 per student. She also is expecting roughly a positive $300,000 impact on the budget when everything is said and done.

She said that this year, the building principals got in touch with families that had students leaving the district to find out why, but they found no one major reason.

Some students’ families moved elsewhere, whether to another part of the state or to another state entirely, while others used Schools of Choice to go to another district, Kott said.

“When they’re all over the state, they probably moved for one reason or another, (like) job transfers,” Kott said. “Same with the out-of-state ones, as there are a few that were out of state also.”

McLeod said student loss is an issue impacting more than just East Detroit and Roseville schools, and he added that when he was working at the Monroe school district, they also saw student losses. Part of the loss is from Schools of Choice, and part is from people moving to different areas, but East Detroit has had some specific challenges that may have impacted its losses too, such as its budget deficit that was paid off over the summer.

“We also are sensitive to the fact our budget woes created a problem, and (so has) our Priority School status in terms of image as a district,” he said. “There are definitely things we’re trying to do to improve that. Some of those efforts are showing that (we are improving) in student achievement; those are things we’re hoping to celebrate in the future to attract parents and keep them here or encourage them to come back.”