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Enrollment firming up, funding still undetermined for LOCS students



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March 19, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

The numbers are rolling in for both next year's kindergarten enrollment along with district-wide enrollment in the Lake Orion School District.

Little kids

Lake Orion Schools marked another snow day on Wednesday, March 19, but that didn't deter parents from enrolling their four and five-year-olds on the same day for the kindergarten enrollment kick off.

Parents signed up in-district students at the Central Enrollment department, room 109, at the Community Education Resource Center (CERC) located at 455 E. Scripps Rd.

So far, 264 kindergartners have enrolled in both traditional kindergarten and a new option for next year, developmental kindergarten.

Developmental kindergarten is reserved for students eligible for kindergarten but who are on the younger side. LOCS had a similar program called "Young Fives" a couple of years ago. Students who turn five after October 1, 2015, are eligible.

Students can enroll up until school starts.

"Our numbers are looking healthy right now," Heidi Mercer said, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.

To make it easy, parents can enroll online first at: http://www.lakeorion.k12.mi.us/content_page.aspx?cid=1918 to sign up, and then complete the process by calling the Central Enrollment Office at 248-814-0215 to make a brief appointment.

Big kids

The bigger kids have been unofficially counted, too.

February 12 marked Michigan's school count day for winter 2014. This number, along with the fall count numbers tallied for October 2014 will determine funding for the 2014-15 school year.

Lake Orion administrators counted roughly 7,442 students in attendance for grades kindergarten through twelfth on February 12, including Learning Options Program students.

This number, however, is not the audited number that will determine how much state financial aid LOCS will receive for fiscal year 2014.

"I'm still finalizing that number. Count day is like a snap shot in time, and if students are absent that day, they have so many days to return that we can still count them," said Nancy Limback, Pupil Accounting Specialist for LOCS.

Students with excused absences on February 12 have 30 calendar days to return to school to be included in the official count, where students with unexcused absences have 10 school days to return.

The last day to include absent students was Friday, March 14.

Final audited numbers for Full Time Equivalency (FTE) students from February 12 will be available late spring, Limback said.

The count does not tally a student 'head count,' Limback said, but totals FTE students, where each student is generally 1.0 FTE, but a part-time student could render 0.5 FTE.

Because each student translates into state aid funding for the district, count information is critical to all Michigan school districts and mandated through the State School Aid Act.

Funding is calculated from a blending of both winter and fall student count data for the schools' fiscal year, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

Ten percent of the student count from February will be blended with 90 percent of the count from October 2013 to determine funding for the 2013-14 school year.

Put more simply, the Lake Orion Schools budget for 2013-14 is not finalized by the state until almost the end of the school year, leaving room for budget amendments in June to actualize the number.

"It depends if you are a declining or growing school district," Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance John Fitzgerald said. "The old model used numbers from our February count from a year ago, which was more kids. With the snapshot taken of February 2014 we are losing kids, so it hurts us as a district from a funding point of view," he said.

Funding

Each student funded for the 2014 school year garnered $7,877 in the Per Pupil Foundation Allowance determined through the School Aid Funding sources. This number is specific to Lake Orion.

The 2015 per-pupil foundation allowance is projected to be $7,972 per student in foundation allowance monies, or a $95 increase per student from 2014.

The official Foundation Allowance amount per student has decreased by $425, using the FA amount from fiscal year 2009 set at $8,302 and the 2014 amount $7,877.

The School Foundation Allowance (SFA) is funded first through local taxes on non-homestead properties—18 mills taxed on non-residential properties such as those industrial/commercial or second homes—which raises about $957.74 per student. Then the SAF "state aid" fills in approximately $6,919.26 per pupil, only if the non-homestead tax is levied.

"State Categorical" funds, such as at-risk funds and SE Headlee Obligation funds, are secondary source funding that supports SAF, which are more apt to change than the per-pupil funding itself.

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