Count Date Options
STUDY OF THE FINANCING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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09:12 AM -- Count Date Options
Vody Herrmann, Colorado Department of Education (CDE), came to the table to speak to the CDE's position on multiple count dates. CDE provided a memorandum containing background information, as did the Colorado Children's Campaign (Attachments A and B, respectively). Ms. Herrmann noted that in 1992-1993 there were two count dates -- October 1 and February 1 -- and explained that the following year, the dates were shifted to October 1 and February 15. The next year, she said, the CDE returned to the previous practice of one count date on October 1.
Ms. Herrmann talked about average daily attendance information currently collected by the CDE. She explained that average daily attendance statewide is about 93.5 percent of the October count. She said average daily membership data is also available. Ms. Herrmann said moving to a second count date would allow districts to count students received after October 1. She remarked that districts with a heavy military presence often gain students after October 1, which is why there is a military count date in February, though, she explained, that count date has only been funded in one year. Ms. Herrmann also commented that a second count date might result in districts working harder to keep enrollment up after the October 1 count date.
Ms. Herrmann stressed the point that an additional count date would place an additional burden on districts and CDE staff. She explained that collecting count information takes a couple of months, and that in the current economic climate, districts might be unable to add staff to handle a second count date.
Ms. Herrmann responded to committee questions. Representative Massey talked about issues faced in rural districts because of when the count date falls, and asked if there is a way to deal with kids who are absent on October 1 without adding a second count date. Ms. Herrmann explained that there is 30-day window in place to deal with these kinds of issues. Senator Johnston asked about the possibility of a headcount date during CSAP testing to keep districts honest about who they are counting. Ms. Herrmann said the CDE supports a second count date, but not during this difficult economic time. Senator Romer asked how many districts use Infinite Campus or a similar enrollment system. Ms. Herrmann said she would have to get that information for him. Senator Romer talked about issues faced by schools with very high mobility rates. Representative Middleton responded to the discussion, mentioning Race to the Top and other federal funds that might be used to relieve the burden on districts from a data collection standpoint. She said she wants to create incentives for improving attendance.
Ms. Herrmann responded to Representative Middleton's comments, saying with open choice across the state, district lines have been blurred. She commented that students may be enticed to attend a school across a district line that, after the October 1 count date, releases the student so the student ends up back in his or her district of residence. A second count, she said, would be helpful in these circumstances. She responded to additional committee questions, including one from Senator Romer about consequences and rewards related to retaining students and the possibility of using existing data systems for these purposes.