ASD loses about $10,000 for every child not registered in October

Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop and CFO Jim Anderson discuss what happens when parents pull...
Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop and CFO Jim Anderson discuss what happens when parents pull their kids out of the district.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 8:18 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The upcoming school year is going to be tough, but leaders at the Anchorage School District are feeling confident in the refinements they’ve made over the summer. While they’ve been getting ready to make this school year as normal as possible, some parents have been getting ready to take them out of the district. In large numbers, that could have a big financial impact on next year’s budget.

Chief Financial Officer for ASD, Jim Anderson, said there’s still a while for parents to register their kids -- this time of year it’s normal for thousands to still be unregistered. So far, he said most parents are opting into the ASD virtual programs. However, their affiliated home school options are gaining some momentum with about 400 new students so far.

Anderson said for every student completely pulled out of the Anchorage School District by October, they lose about $10,000 a head as the formula works now.

He explained state funding comes down to the OASIS count, a period of time number of children participating in district programs are counted. This year, it will start on the first day of October and go on for the following 20 school days. Fully enrolled means getting the full amount of funding, however, if a student is partially enrolled -- which Anderson said happens often -- they get partial credit.

Anderson said if folks are going to end up changing their minds about it, they should do that before the OASIS count.

“If a parent pulls their children out of an ASD school and goes outside the district and returns at any time after the OASIS count period, then we do not get the revenue for this year,” Anderson said.

He also made the point that the way the OASIS count and the resulting funding works could be changed by the legislature if they call a special session about it. None are confirmed now, but Anderson said that there are talks of holding one.

“It could change and if you see a special session come up, I’m confident that you’re going to see a pretty massive push to change the way it’s funded this year,” he said.

ASD spokespeople clarified that Anchorage’s school district gets the least amount of money per student from OASIS counts, simplifying that the smaller the district is the more funding per child that may be acquired.

For those who want to do home school this year, but eventually want their children in class again, ASD is offering a number of home school programs that still secure the funding for the district.

Superintendent, Dr. Deena Bishop said the way they’re approaching this year makes education more tailor-made for the situations that families are looking at, and that virtual school will leave children with a much better education than how last year ended.

“Last year, we just kept some type of learning going that kept kids active in courses,” she said. “This year, truly is direct instruction, lessons that tie back to the standards.”

Bishop recommends that parents talk to their school to figure out which route is best. However, she summarized the differences between going to virtual school and going home school.

She said home school students are going to have daily schedules more like in class schedules accompanied with more one on one time with instructors. Virtual school will still have a recommended schedule and virtual meeting, but families can be more flexible with it. She said home school will feel like a mix between online school and in class.

“The beauty of this is that it depends on your family, your child, and your learning,” Bishop said.

Bishop said they are aware of the frustrations parents have with online schooling, but have been busy working with families to continue assessing needs and getting students resources like WiFi hot-spots and Chromebooks before school starts. She said it’s taken a lot of effort to set the programs up the way they are, but the pandemic isn’t going to be forever, and she urges parents thinking about leaving to hold on.

“What public education is going to look like after this period of time of the pandemic depends on us all,” she said, “and I would just hope that we would make decisions in the best interest of our children’s future and not the time where we’re angry, anxious, and tired of the pandemic.”

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