As more and more students across Wyoming enroll in classes online, it can make calculating attendance at a public school a little more tricky. And homeschool students may come to school for just a portion of the day, while other students might leave school early.
In 2017 the legislature passed a policy changing how the school finance model calculates attendance — or what’s called average daily membership.
The amount of time students spend in school impacts the amount of money districts get in their block grant from the state.
Jed Cicarelli with the Wyoming Department of Education said the newly drafted rules allow schools to more accurately claim funding for students who only spend a fraction of their day in school.
“Overly simplified, what they got to do was round [up] for every student that met half a day of daily membership,” Cicarelli said describing the previous rules. “So if a kid was in attendance for 51 percent of the day [schools] got fully funded for that student. As a part of cost-saving initiatives, one of the recommendations was to fund on a full fractional basis, so for the actual time the student is receiving services in the school.”
This new system is designed to help the state more accurately fund schools, and Kari Eakins from the Wyoming Department of Education said they want the changes to be clear. “If these rules are not clear and concise then a school district may not report what they need to report in order to receive the funding that they need.”
The WDE is seeking input on whether the wording of the new rules is clear. A public comment period is open through March 2.