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Wednesday, November 14, 2012 7:52 PM

Schools get $74K boost from new enrollment info

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer

The Ottawa school district should receive about $74,000 more in state aid than it anticipated after the district recently received its audited enrollment numbers from the state.

The state Department of Education put Ottawa’s weighted full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment at 3,809.2 — a double-digit boost over what the district estimated for its working budget, when the official enrollment count was taken Sept. 20 for the 2012-2013 school year.

“The audited 3809.2 is 19 FTE more than we had in our working budget numbers,” Dean Katt, superintendent of Ottawa schools, said Tuesday. “That’s roughly $74,000 more than we expected. Obviously, we are pleased about that.”

Katt shared the audited enrollment numbers with the school board at its meeting Monday night.

The increase in state aid will not force the Ottawa school district to republish its 2012-2013 budget, however, because the audited total is 7.6 FTE less than the district’s published budget of 3,816.8 FTE, Katt said.

“You always estimate a little higher in the published budget than what you think it will actually be, so you don’t have to republish,” Katt said.

A school district’s weighted full-time equivalent enrollment always is higher than a school district’s actual head count — in Ottawa’s case, the actual audited head count was 2,496 students — because the FTE count represents additional state aid for at-risk students, transportation, vocational education, special education, virtual enrollment and several other factors.

The actual, state-audited head count for each grade in the Ottawa school district was as follows:

• Kindergarten: 197

• First grade: 230

• Second grade: 178

• Third grade: 200

• Fourth grade: 195

• Fifth grade: 188

• Sixth grade: 181

• Seventh grade: 190

• Eighth grade: 194

• Ninth grade: 169

• 10th grade: 179

• 11th grade: 157

• 12th grade: 165

The numbers do not include students enrolled in special education, preschool and other programs.

The audit, which took place in October, showed an increase of two kindergartners, but a decrease of two first-graders, which Katt said gave him pause.

“Two first-grade students technically were considered of kindergarten age by the state, so they moved them [figuratively not literally] for calculating the FTE,” Katt said. “I’ve never seen that happen before.”   

The move cost the district more than $5,000 in state aid, because kindergarten students are calculated as half students by the state for funding purposes. The state’s base aid per pupil is $3,838.



Doug Carder is senior writer for The Herald. Email him at dcarder@ottawaherald.com

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