Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators are waiting on confirmation from the state but say nearly 30 fewer students enrolled this year than were projected.
The disparity, identified through the annual, state-required 20-Day OASIS (On-Line Alaska School Information System) count may mean less state funding for the 2015–2016 school year.
“We anticipate learning the final number sometime in January,” said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff.
In September, Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones reported the difference between projected and actual enrollment was around 90 students, which would have meant roughly $1 million less from the state.
On Dec. 7, Jones presented a one-day snapshot from the 20-day count from Dec. 1, and the number of absent students from throughout the school district was 141. On that day there were between 30 and 45 students absent from Nikiski, Kenai Central and Soldotna high schools. School district administrators have to work closely with principals to explain those discrepancies, Jones said.
“On any given day, students can be absent, which accounts for the differentiation,” Erkeneff said.
Right now, the school district has not calculated how much less it will receive from the state, and won’t until administrators hear back from the state, Erkeneff said.
The school district uses the average of the 20-day count to determine the average daily membership, which is a major determinant in how much state funding Alaska’s public school districts are allocated per student.
“It’s important to remember that the foundation formula and average daily membership (ADM) count is complex, and our Connections Homeschool students also take classes at neighborhood schools, which is calculated in the foundation formula, and the funding the district receives,” Erkeneff said.
The foundation formula is adjusted to increase the funding for students based on a number of factors, such as if a child is enrolled at what the state considers to be a rural school or has intensive needs.
For the 2015 fiscal year, the school district received an unexpected, additional nearly $1.3 million following the 20-day count, having identified 16 intensive needs students that were not expected to be enrolled.
Following the same count, the school district was expecting between 40-50 more students to be enrolled this year than last year. It would have been the first time since 1999 the enrollment count would increase.
The school district project around 8,820 students and 8,789 were accounted for this year.
“This is actually not a big difference, considering some disparities in the past,” Erkeneff said.
According to the school district’s projected versus actual OASIS enrollment numbers from the past ten years, one year there were as many as 292 more students enrolled in the 2008-2009 school year than projected the year before, and as many as 202 fewer students during the 2005-2006 school year than projected the year before.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.