KENOSHA, Wis. — A major day for Wisconsin schools and your tax dollars happens Friday, the third Friday of September.
"Today is count day. It is Third Friday Count Day, all across Wisconsin actually,” said Mary Modder, treasurer of the Kenosha School Board.
It is the day student enrollment is counted, and that count determines how much money a school district gets per pupil. So the more students a district has, the more funding and tax dollars they are likely to get.
"Those enrollment counts are what gets recorded to the state and determines how much funding our district will receive based on those enrollment numbers,” said Yolanda Adams, president of the Kenosha School Board.
In the Kenosha Unified School District, the school board said some parents and community members upset about the mask mandate had said they would keep their students home on Friday to disrupt the count.
"We have seen Facebook posts and other places like emails where they are encouraging parents to keep their kids at home,” said Adams.
However, just keeping a child home does not affect the count. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, if kids are sick, quarantined or otherwise out of class for any reason, they can still be counted, as long as they are enrolled in school.
"Students who aren't here today, if they are registered, the schools will be locating them within the next few weeks and will send in a modified count,” said Modder.
Overall, public schools in Wisconsin have been dealing with an enrollment drop during the last school year. There were 27,000 fewer students who attended public schools during the pandemic, compared to the 2019-2020 school year.
Kenosha also saw a drop in its district:
Kenosha Unified School District:
- 2019-2020: 20,919
- 2020-2021: 19,583
- 1,336 Fewer Students in 2020-2021
"Last year, a good portion of what happened was that parents chose to keep their 4-year-old or kindergarten students and early age students home because of different fears, and not quite sure how it was going to work for virtual schooling,” said Modder.
Kenosha is not the only district that had lower enrollment numbers last year. So did Milwaukee Public Schools:
Milwaukee Public Schools:
- Fall 2019-2020 : 74,683
- Fall 2020-2021 : 71,510
- 3,173 Fewer Students in 2020-2021
However, the Kenosha School Board is expecting at least their numbers to go the other way.
"It is going to go up just by the number of people who enrolled their kids in school right after summer. So it is looking good for us. I believe it is increasing from where we projected, but of course we are not pre-COVID. So we still need to get some of those students back that we lost,” said Adams.
The count happened Friday, but the numbers are not due to the state until next month. That's when we will know the official enrollment numbers for all Wisconsin public schools.