Off to a Great Start

by Coy Holcombe.  

EISD is off to a great start this year. All campuses are reporting smooth starts and lots of excitement from staff members and students. I want to utilize some of our newest technology, the Moodle Page, to provide all interested parties with more information about EISD. On some occasions, I will be updating readers with information and happenings in the district. On other occasions, I want to provide explanations and examples of how and why our district functions in the way it does. Most of all, I want to answer any questions that you may have. If there is a particular topic that you would like to know more about, please email me at cholcombe@eustaceisd.net.

I want to talk today about our enrollment and the difference between enrollment and attendance. Starting this school year, we were a little concerned about what our enrollment would be. Last year, we had a steady drop in enrollment. We started out with about 1570 students and ended the year with about 1520 students. While we always have some fluctuation in our enrollment, this was the first time in many years that we had seen such a drastic decline in our enrollment. In talking with parents/guardians of students that were leaving, almost all cited the rising cost of fuel as the major factor: they were relocating to be closer to their jobs.

On the first day of classes, our reported enrollment was about 1460 students. Throughout the first few days, we continued to gain students. As of yesterday, September 9, our enrollment had climbed to 1512 students. By campus, our current enrollment looks like this: Primary School – 437, Intermediate School – 306, Middle School – 308, and High School – 461. While the number enrolled in a district is important, it is not used in calculating any state funding. State funding is based on our average daily attendance (ADA).

The difference between enrollment and average daily attendance is important. Enrollment is the number of students actually enrolled in the district at a given time. The ADA is the total number of days students are in attendance divided by the total number of days in an attendance period. For example if we had a grade level that had 100 students and there were 30 days in a six weeks period, the total number of days of membership would be 100 x 30 or 3,000. Let’s say that we had perfect attendance in this grade level for the entire six weeks. We would have 3,000 days of attendance. We would then divide this number by the number of days in the attendance period 3,000 ÷ 30 = 100.  So, we would have an ADA of 100 for this grade level. Now, suppose we had the same grade level and that each student missed one day of school during the 30 day six week period. To calculate our ADA we would have to take the number of days of membership (3,000) subtract the days absent (100) and then divide by the number of days in the attendance period (30). 3000 – 100 = 2900 ÷ 30 = 96.67. So, our ADA for this grade level would be 96.67. There are other adjustments that might have to be made; however, these are not common adjustments except for students in the pre-kindergarten classes.

Why is ADA so important to a school district? First, our attendance percentage is part of our overall accountability ratings. Each campus has its own attendance rate and the district has an overall attendance rate. For EISD, our current attendance rate is about 96.3%. This is a very good attendance rate.  A larger enrollment would not do us any good if our ADA was 90%. Second, our ADA is used as the major number in state funding. Our ADA is always less than our enrollment because we have students absent every day. As a rough estimate, if our enrollment is 1520 and we have a 96.2% attendance rate, then we can expect to have an ADA around 1462. (Note: There are several other factors involved in calculating ADA and this is not how we calculate ADA for the year or for any six weeks. This example is only for demonstration purposes.)

This year’s budget was built on an estimated ADA of 1443. For each ADA, the district receives about $3,614. The district also receives other funding that is directly or indirectly tied to our ADA: compensatory funding is based on the number of free and reduced lunch students, special education funding is based on the number of students receiving special education services, career and technology funding is based on the number of students enrolled in career and technology classes, and our bilingual/ESL funding is based on the number of students served in our ESL program. There are several other funding areas and other funding factors, but the main driving force is the number of students and the days that they are in attendance.

The difference between enrollment and ADA can be confusing. Funding for our schools is complicated. One of my goals of this blog is to offer explanations and examples that will make it easier to understand how our schools are funded.   If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

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