MCC talks student count, snow days

February 21, 2019

SCOTTVILLE — Student enrollment is down at Mason County Central schools according to the district’s Feb. 14 winter count day.

The decrease was expected by MCC Superintendent Jeff Mount, who told school board trustees Monday that a drop between fall and winter count days is normal.

“We do see a loss traditionally from fall to spring,” Mount said. “It’s not a bad number.”

The final student count for the district was 1,251, which is a decrease of 32 students from the 1,283 enrollment figure from the October count day. Overall, the district experienced a 2.5-percent decrease between the first and second count days of the 2018-19 school year.

Count day figures are significant for Michigan schools, as public schools receive funding on a per-pupil basis. The figures from October and February are combined to create a blended total that determines the amount of school aid funding that districts receive from the state.

Figures from February count day account for 10 percent of school aid funding, while October numbers account for 90 percent.

The count is not necessarily bad, according to Mount, who spoke to members of the MCC Board of Education Monday about enrollment and other issues. During the past 15 years, the district has seen decreases of up to 85 students.

Additionally, the decrease follows an October count that was the highest in years, up 32 students from the 2017-18 school year.

Mount added that this year’s loss of 32 students is deceptive, because about 12 of those students have transferred to Spartan Academy, where MCC students who are struggling to meet graduation requirements can complete credits at a different pace.

In terms of funding, Spartan Academy is evaluated separately from the K-12 student population.

“They’re still Mason County Central Spartans, but we can’t count them in traditional 90 percent, 10 percent (figures),” Mount said. “We count them in the 23-A grant, which is 1/12 of the $7,871 per student for each month they make progress toward graduation.

“It’s completely different, which is why we don’t combine them. We don’t want to skew the numbers or confuse anybody, but a good portion of those 32 (students) are part of our Spartan Academy.”

Snow days

Mount also talked to board trustees about where the district stands in terms of snow days in the wake of the polar vortex that enveloped the region throughout late January and early February.

Mount said the district has currently used 11 snow days, and that six are forgivable. There is a potential to receive a waiver for up to three additional days from the state superintendent, and Mount said an application would be submitted to have that consideration as well.

“We will submit the waiver … so we know what to do with those three days. Whether they’re forgiven, or if we need to add (to the end of the year).”

One complication is that one of the district’s mandated in-service days for teachers and administrators was cut as a result of the weather.

“One of those Fridays was a district-provided professional development day,” Mount said. “So we have to make up (that time) somewhere, somehow.”

Mount said he is working with the MCC Education Association to find a reasonable time to make up the professional development session.

As for the rest of the year, Mount said pending legislation could result in the snow days that were used during the state of emergency declared by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer being forgiven.

“The remaining days are really up to Mother Nature and legislation. If legislation determines that we might forgive those state of emergency days (we’ll do that) … and if that’s not the case, we’ll have to make those days up at the end of the year by adding days to the calendar,” he said. “It’s really out of our hands for now.”

He said he hopes to have a district calendar completed by the spring.

“Hopefully by spring break we’ll have a really good idea of what the end of the year looks like … and we’ll be able to put a final plan together for the remainder of the year,” Mount said.

The school year is currently scheduled to end on Friday, June 7.