Most LEAs that believe that student attendance will return to the previous rate, without almost any significant targeted and concerted effort will quickly be finding themselves having to explain to stakeholders why they are making cuts or reducing services due to reduced funding. The example, just using very basic algebraic expressions we projected both enrollment and ADA trends, with declining enrollment continuing. The result is the ADA the LEA budget is an additional 125.12 ADA in the 2023-24 funding year and another 275.81 ADA in the 2024-25 funding year in comparison to the more conservative, and likely outcome from the trend projection.
Funding per ADA for this LEA after calculating for both the supplement and concentration grants and including the projected COLA would be $14,120.84 in 2023-2024 and $14,905.97 in 2024-2025. These values were used to make the comparison of funding implications based on the assumptions. The actual calculations would have been done for each grade span and then added together to get the LEA total but the data does show the differences and impact an assumption can have (back to enrollment projections: art or science?).
Understanding how we develop budgets and make ongoing commitments this LEA could quickly find that the projection was not met because there was not a change in actions and behaviors. If there is one thing that we know, it is if you do the same thing you always have done and expect a new result you will quickly become quite disappointed.
What advice should we give this understanding of how veteran Chief Business Officials develop budgets and authorize the recommendation of ongoing financial commitments, this LEA could quickly find that their MYP projection was not reached. There may be numerous reasons why an LEA does not meet a projection, but in this case, it will almost assuredly be because there was not a change in actions or focus on changing attendance habits made by the LEA. If there is one thing that we know and believe from a litany of literature, is that if your organization does the same thing it always has done and expects a new result, the LEA leadership and stakeholders will quickly become quite disappointed. Once morale in a school district turns the rhetoric begins to kick into high gear. In financially struggling districts the accusations using the terms, "mismanagement," "transparency," and "accountability" will be quick to surface.
Just as the impact of having to go back on an agreement or being accused of not providing the board of education with the appropriate data can hamper one's career, these are also great times to open up the books and the process to involve more stakeholders input on the critical component of making resource allocations based upon data and ensure that all necessary stakeholders have access to the same data.
Below are a few questions for deeper thinking:
What actions should the school district consider based on the trends of the data?
What strategies and suggestions can we make that are backed by the research?
What can happen if the projected results do not occur, and how can we change the outcomes?
Moving forward, we will go deeper into what guided me to this passion for addressing attendance and outline things that can be done right now to make a change in the direction we all hope to take our LEAs in the coming year. Please do not hesitate to comment and forward this to anyone who might be interested in learning more. Part of my role is to support all LEAs to work together with the common goal of improving student achievement.