GRPS expecting record Count Day attendance

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — School districts across Michigan are encouraging students to be in the classroom for Count Day.

Wednesday is the first Count Day of the school year, with 90 percent of state funding at stake based on how many students attend classes. It’s particularly crucial for the state’s school districts with deficits and declining enrollments. A second Count Day is Feb. 8.

“That state ‘per pupil’ dollar is the vast majority of the money that we use to invest in our teachers, in our schools, in the books, [and] in the supplies. Everything that we do to serve our students is largely coming from that state ‘per pupil’ funding,” said John Helmholdt, Grand Rapids Public Schools Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs.

The Grand Rapids Public Schools district is again launching a campaign to remind parents of the date. It anticipates 16,705 students, an increase in its population. That would be a change for the district which has seen losses in its student population for nearly a decade.

“Our test scores are up, our graduation rates are up, our chronic absenteeism is down our dropout rates are down and our enrollment is about to increase for the first time in 20 years,” said Helmholdt.

“Students need to be in school on time every single day ready to learn. We know that students, when they’re missing school the more days they miss the more likely it is that their academics are going to suffer, they’re less likely to graduate, they’re more likely to drop out, they’re more likely to fail a test or to fail a class and so when students are in school on time every day they are going to succeed academically,” Helmholdt added.