Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 26, 2014

Suttons Bay may struggle to get accurate student numbers to state

TRAVERSE CITY — Suttons Bay Public Schools officials could struggle to get accurate student count numbers to the state before a deadline next month.

The trouble is owed in large part to problems with online student population reporting.

“Just to give you an indication, our fall count still hasn’t been certified because they are still sorting through all those records,” Superintendent Michael Murray said.

Public schools in Michigan count their student populations once in the fall and once in the winter. The enrollment numbers determine how much state funding a district will receive.

Murray said the state has strict requirements for counting online students. They are required to log in to their online classes and to check in with online advisers in a specific way to be counted in enrollment figures.

Many students failed to meet those requirements in the fall. Murray said district officials educated online students since then about how to meet the online attendance and participation requirements.

Murray said online enrollment figures from the February count day won’t be available for a while, but he hoped those numbers will bolster the fall totals, even though the counts are blended in a 90 percent to 10 percent formula.

The district faces a $770,000 budget deficit. Murray said accurate count numbers are important for two reasons.

“It’s important that we get the money for (students), but it’s also important because, when we take them on, we take on the responsibility of making sure they are successful,” he said.

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