Public schools face crucial deadline Friday


Every public school counted on every student Friday more than any other day of the year. Crucial state funding - the money that pays for teachers, desks, computers, even crayons - rises or falls with the official enrollment figures.

It's all about math. How the enrollment numbers add up on this day determines how much money schools receive for an entire year.

Emma Donnan, an Indianapolis middle school operated by Charter Schools USA, has about 50 fewer students than last year. Principal Terry Stollar looked disappointed.

"Fifty students is a lot of money, yes," she said.

Across town at IPS 79, every classroom is full. Enrollment jumped by a hundred students.

Principal Joyce Akridge says that means opportunities and resources for children. She explained, "Part of those resources would be teachers and that means class sizes are going to be smaller" because the numbers are bigger.

The math is simple. In IPS every student equals roughly $7,266. Tens of millions of dollars are at stake. Early indications show enrollment will be the same or slightly higher than last year. Any increase would be big for a struggling school district that's been loosing about 800 students a year.

School 79 is seeing new families moving into the area, and students transferring here from non-IPS Schools. Akridge couldn't help but smile. "I'm happy," she said. "Parents have confidence in us."

IPS has also worked harder at selling itself, calling parents and knocking on doors and looking for absent students. Emma Donnan and three other former IPS schools the state took over as well as charter schools are doing the same thing.

"It is a very competitive market out there," said Stollar. "There are a lot of schools bidding for these students."

For a large school district, it can take days to collect all the numbers, double check and add them up. But there is already one surprise. IPS is competing for students with four of its former schools taken over by the state.

Administrators say 60 percent of the students automatically enrolled to attend those schools are transferring to IPS.