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Michigan Schools Loss of Students Means Millions Lost in State Funding

September 27th was a crucial day for many Michigan schools across the state, as they enticed children with incentives to show up at school for the Michigan schools’ statewide school count day. With many parents sending their children to private schools and families moving out of metro areas, many schools are praying their enrollment campaigns work. Otherwise, it could cost them million of dollars in state funding, meaning the layoff of teachers and closing of schools.

Enrollment campaigns were developed to get enrolled students into the classroom on count day, offering such enticements as giveaways, ice cream and pizza parties, games, permission to wear regular clothing versus uniforms for that day, dances and free rides on city buses for the day.

According to spokeswoman Mattie Majors, the Detroit school district received about ,000 in donations for incentives and added an additional ,000 from its 0,000 enrollment campaign. Kellogg donated ice cream, cookies, movie tickets, and cereal bowls; Pinnacle Sportswear, Footlocker and Best Buy donated gift cards; and each high school in the metro gave away a Dell laptop computer.

The Detroit school district was missing some 25,000 students at the beginning of school. They stand to lose ,459 in state funding for each student, who does not show up on count day. The district had expected to lose between 7,300 and 9,300 students. If they lose more, they may be forced to close 30 of its 225 schools, layoff many of their staff employees and teachers, and be at the mercy of politicians, who want to debate school district operations in their active campaigns.

Detroit’s Chadsey High School gave each student a slip of paper, called a “floating A”. If they had each of their teachers sign the paper, they would get credit for an “A” on their first report card. Chadsey had 790 students enrolled at the beginning of the school year; however, 146 had not shown up for school, according to principal Shirley Hightower.

Eastpointe school district expects their count to drop by 229 students, leaving 5,221 students remaining. This means a difference of .8 million in state funding, when they already are looking for places and ways to cut the budget. Superintendent Bruce Kefgen said that staffing is their biggest budget expenditure — 75-80 percent of the budget. That means lots of layoffs. Making count day incentives a priority for its schools.

Some Michigan schools, such as Oak Park, may benefit from the exodus of families from the metro areas, desiring suburb or smaller town lifestyles. Oak Park typically enrolls 200 Michigan schools students from Detroit each year. This year, they have 500 Michigan schools students from Detroit.

Student counts are recalculated and submitted to the Michigan schools several times — first on September 27th and then several times during October. Michigan schools spokeswoman Jan Ellis said it is a long process. September counts are blended with numbers from the previous February to calculate the per-student state funding from the Michigan schools. Confirmation of the counts from the Michigan schools is expected by mid-November.

About the Author: Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Patricia has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more information on Michigan schools visit

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