Fewer students leaving Scottsdale Schools, numbers show

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board met April 20 at Coronado High School. (file photo)

The Scottsdale Unified School District’s student enrollment remains in decline, new numbers presented April 25 show, but district officials believe the problem is beginning to subside.

Additionally, district leaders say they have found some errors in how previous student enrollment numbers were reported, which could result in up to half a million dollars of recovered tax revenue.

At a Tuesday, April 25 regular Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board meeting Dr. Anna McCauley, assistant superintendent of accountability and instruction, presented the district’s enrollment and average daily membership for fiscal year 2017.

The district’s actual enrollment on the 100th day in 2017 is 23,317 — down from 23,539 last year.

ADM, a small name for an important set of numbers, is what funding from the Arizona Legislature is reliant upon. The number is an aggregate of the head count of students at the 100-day mark of the school calendar.

Kindergarten-12th grade numbers provided at the meeting show the student decline began in 2010. The district’s historical enrollment shows:

  • 2010-11: 288 students lost
  • 2011-12: 539 students lost
  • 2012-13: 408 students lost
  • 2013-14: 994 students lost
  • 2014-15: 879 students lost
  • 2015-16: 140 students lost
  • 2016-17: 222 students lost

“As we see, the decline in enrollment is going down a bit,” Dr. McCauley explained. “We are still declining, but it’s not nearly at the rate it was for those five years.”

Dr. McCauley says her staff is looking into every accounting nook and cranny of the district, and has found some errors.

“So we recently discovered our method of reporting membership to the state was resulting in underreporting of our student memberships,” Dr. McCauley told the governing board. “To fix the issue we reconfigured our methodology and resubmitted our membership data. As a result, we are going to re-coop about 140 memberships.”

In addition, Dr. McCauley and her team discovered the district isn’t receiving full-day funding for kindergarten students who qualify. The district is re-submitting its kindergarten memberships to receive the full amount entitled for them, she said.

In July, Dr. McCauley says, she can present the updated and current numbers to the board after that process if finished.

Based on the errors found this year, the accurate ADM could provide additional funding to this year’s budget, said Scottsdale Schools Chief Financial Officer, Laura Smith.

“If those are current year numbers, that could increase our budget this year over half a million dollars,” said Ms. Smith.

Of the errors found, Ms. Smith and Dr. McCauley say they have been working together as a team to find money within the district.

“Everybody’s looking, under all the rocks, and we’re all communicating and just taking a fresh set of eyes to look at things, and when something looks wrong we chase a rabbit down the hole,” she said.

Dr. McCauley shared the same sentiment, stating the importance of the matter at hand.

“Reporting correctly, even if it something that takes more time, it is more time intensive to do it right — it just is,” Dr. McCauley said. “So we like to do things right, and so I believe no dollar left behind, no child left behind, no test score left behind, all of those things apply here.”

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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