Numbers matter to schools! This isn’t a simple math lesson, there are many variables to school funding. One such variable is student enrollment. Most states around the country have two count days per year, one in the fall and one in the spring. These two days are crucial for federal funding, staffing, and for applying for other potential funding sources. Schools rely heavily on this data. That’s a lot of pressure for school districts! Some schools are incentivizing these days to get students in their “seats” to make it count for their budgets. School budgets are typically set before the school year, however there are mid-year challenges and changes. You can become their advocate by understanding how these changes impact their budgets.
Enrollment directly impacts staffing. Individual states have accreditation standards set by their department of public instruction. One such standard is class size. In areas where the student population fluctuates, this becomes a challenge for many schools. During the big “Oil Boom” in areas of North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming this quickly became a reality. Unfortunately, current funding was determined by data received from previous years’ enrollment numbers, but many schools now had significant increases in student enrollment This made it difficult to still meet class size accreditation, because they lacked additional money for resources and staff. Schools in a similar situation need to work closely with their state offices to help offset the discrepancy of students from the previous year to the current year.
Adding teaching assignments mid-year is a fairly common practice due to enrollment changes, or when additional funding is awarded. Grants received later in the year may also necessitate additional teaching positions or resources. Consequently, with staffing changes there are many challenges from finding space in an already cramped school to purchasing quality resources. Time is of the essence with these mid-year changes.
Sometimes adding additional positions late in the school year is difficult due to the teacher shortages across the country. Schools are becoming creative problem solvers from hiring teachers from overseas, applying for emergency licensure, to asking teachers to take on additional duties. In many cases, these require negotiating with the teachers’ union. Overall, schools are trying to do the best they can with what they have. Therefore, by being an advocate for these schools you can help them stretch their tight budgets and make their numbers really count!