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FLINT, MI – Some Flint Community Schools Board of Education members and the district’s superintendent say enrollment for Flint increases after charter schools send students back before required state testing but after student count day.
The board did not identify what charter schools are allegedly sending students back to Flint to avoid low test scores, but Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez said he contemplated reporting them to the Michigan Department of Education.
“After count day we received quite a number of students,” Lopez said during an April 17, 2019 Board of Education meeting. “There was some exodus…from our charter schools. …It is insidious and it’s harmful to the children.”
For the 2018-2019 school year, Michigan’s count days were on Oct. 3, 2018 and February 13, 2019. Count days are used to determine funding that schools receive per student enrolled.
In Flint, February 2019 numbers show an increase in students in elementary grade levels. October 2018 numbers showed there were 2,922 elementary students in enrolled in Flint schools. By February that number had increased to 2,967. There were losses among middle school and high school-aged students. Middle school numbers were down by one and high school enrollment decreased by 36 students. With the combined losses and growth Flint gained eight students districtwide.
Ninety percent of school funding is based on the October count day.
The state uses count day to determine how much funding a district receives per student. A 2019 report from the Michigan Department of Education, Flint received $9,277 per student in state funding for the 2017-2018 school year. Charters schools average $8,705.
“They, of course, keep all of the money,” said Board of Education Secretary Betty Ramsdell. “They don’t send the money back.”
District heads say students are still coming into Flint as schools get ready for testing throughout Genesee County this spring.
“They don’t’ want their test scores to be low and that affects our test scores,” said Board of Education member Vera Perry. “This happens every year… something has to be done about that. That is not right.”
Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) is taken during the spring usually starting in April and is a requirement of all schools receiving state funding.