The first business day of October is official 'Count Day' in Iowa schools, and this year it fell on Monday, October 2nd. Regardless of who was attending the day before or the day after, official enrollment is based on which students were in attendance on October 2nd. That means if a student had moved into Hudson prior to that date, they became part of our official count. If they moved out of our district on October 3rd, they were still a part of our count. That also means, unfortunately, that if students move into our district on October 3rd, they are not included in our count. And since count day, we have had approximately a dozen students enroll in our school. Good news for our school for sure, but not so good when it comes to count day!
Certified enrollment is important insofar as the number of resident pupils in our district is the number that is used to form the base funding level for the next school year. Our official certified enrollment, taken on October 2nd will be multiplied by the district cost per pupil when we start to build our budget in February for the 2018-2019 school year. Again, students who enroll after that date do not count toward that budgetary number because they were previously counted by the district they just left. I know what you are thinking: how is that fair? Fair or not, it cuts both ways. Consider the student who was in our district on October 2nd and moved on October 3rd. The receiving district, in this case, doesn't get to count them, because we already did--even though they have moved away. Nonetheless, this year we seemed to have a lot more students move into our district than move away, which should always be viewed as a good thing!
A deep dive into our official certified enrollment suggests a lot of good news. Officially our certified enrollment is up by 12 students. That is the number of students that are residents of Hudson both attending our schools and those who are open enrolled to another school district. That may not seem like a lot until one looks a little closer at these figures. The number of resident students who are attending Hudson has increased by 20 students, while at the same time the number of resident students who are open enrolled to another school district has decreased by 8 students. Students from other school districts who have open enrolled to Hudson also increased by 9 students. This works out to a net increase of 29 students who are attending Hudson this year over last year. If we factor in the additional 10-12 students who have subsequently enrolled since Count Day, we are serving approximately 40 students more than last year. Then, of course, we are not considering the addition of preschool, which has added 31 students. It is also worth noting that the number of students we are serving outside the district is down since we have elected to bring those students back to our buildings and serve them here.
While it's good to know where we are right now, our challenge is trying to figure out where we are going with enrollment. To project future enrollment, the first variable to consider is the incoming kindergarten class. Conventional wisdom would suggest preschool as a good place to start, and while it can yield some useful data, it is not necessarily a reliable indicator of kindergarten class size. Instead, what we have elected to use at Hudson is a five year rolling average as a predictor of kindergarten. Then, using the cohort methodology, we simply advance those students by one grade level for the following year. When employing this method, we come up with a forecast that looks something like this:
Admittedly, ussing an arbitrary methodology can make us wonder about the accuracy of the model, however, it has been relatively predictable, at least in the short term. This model accurately predicted within +/- 2 students the 2016-2017 school year enrollment. Further, this same model in 2013 predicted enrollment of 720 for the 2017-2018 school year, which we are currently in (however, this same model predicted enrollment of 721 in 2018-2019, and the most recent iteration of our enrollment trend indicates enrollment next year in excess of 730).
But alas, these projections do not consider other important variables that are consequential to our enrollment. Those variables being the development of Upper Ridge Estates, the apartment complex on Springfield Avenue, or the proposed Twin Oaks development. All of these will have a positive influence on our enrollment. In an upcoming article, we will discuss how we are making plans for increased enrollment in our school district.