How student attendance translates into state funding

A student count period at public schools across Alaska closed Friday. The average daily membership over the last four weeks determines state funding to local schools. (Photo by Images of Money/Flickr Creative Commons)

Across Alaska, Friday was the last day in a four-week period where student attendance translates into school funding.

Public schools receive a major chunk of their funding from the state under what’s known as the foundation formula. It’s complex, but generally, the more students in attendance in October, the more state funding each school receives.

This year, a typical student with perfect attendance between Sept. 30 and Oct. 25 is worth $5,680 to his or her school. That’s the figure that legislators and education officials call the “base student allocation.”

Funding adjustments, including extra money for students with special needs, cost-of-living differences from district to district, and reductions for efficiencies at larger schools, introduce more complexity.

Huge tables of data due to the state Nov. 8 are being compiled to count every public school student in Alaska.

The Juneau School District is expected to announce its final numbers early next week. Preliminary counts are about 106 students lower than expected – and that means the district is over budget by about $1 million this year. That amount covers salary and benefits for about 10 teachers.