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Counting up


Administrators' projection numbers off by one student



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October 07, 2009 - When it comes to numbers, Lake Orion Community Schools could be slightly ahead of the game.

The latest student count showed 7,892 studentsin Lake Orion classrooms Sept. 30 (official count day for many districts across the state)which beat the administration's projected student count by one, according to school officials.

Webber Elementary's count was 485 with less than 10 students absent, said Principal Sarah Manzo. The total puts them about 10 heads short of where they were last year.

Manzo says the school doesn't offer any incentives to get kids in seats on count day. On a daily basis, however, the principal personally fetches students who have missed the bus.

"I don't want kids to miss school if they miss the bus and can't get here," she said.

She adds that offering incentives to students to come only on count day doesn't make sense, noting, "You still have to maintain that student."

Oakview Middle School was also down in numbers, but it was a change Principal Alice Seppanen said they expected.

"We were down from last year because we lost a very large eighth grade class," she said. "We were a couple over what we actually anticipated and we were glad."

Oakview's estimated student count was 555.

Student count numbers for each school will not be finalized for several more days as students who did not attend Sept. 30 have a 30 day period to attend a full day of school and still be counted.

Lake Orion High School is at 2,567 students which includes 698 freshmen, 637 sophomores, 614 juniors and 599 seniors.

According to interim Principal Tom Tobe, the school is up 114 students from last year.

"[Count day] is a normal school day for us," said Tobe. "There were no special incentives to show up. Lake Orion, to me, is a good, solid community. We're excited that we have that many students.

Having a total district count total so close to projected numbers is good news for the district, according to Superintendent Ken Gutman.

"We're stable and we're very happy to be stable in this economy," he said.

Funding from the state is based on last Wednesday's number blended with a count from this coming spring. Though the state of Michigan has yet to agree on a budget for 2010, legislators estimate that per student funding will be cut by $218.

"There is still a lot going on with legislature," said Jillynn Keppler, assistant superintendent of administrative services. "The information we get from our representative continues to, frankly, get worse and worse every day. It's sobering."

Numbers are up 58 from last year's blended count, and have continued to rise over the past six years. Student population is now 499 greater than what it was in 2003, according to information released in the 2009-10 budget hearing in June.

Currently the district is holding Budget Information Meetings at each school in an effort to keep the public abreast of its economic situation, says Keppler. At the meetings, administrators will also ask for money-saving ideas from the public.

"We truly value the input from our community," Keppler said. "Anything they have, anything they'd like to contribute we'd love to hear from them."

"We know that if any community is able to come together and weather the storm of financial difficulty, it is Lake Orion," said Gutman.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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