I received a message back telling me that the official counts don’t occur until October 1. I replied:
Thanks -- I know the official count comes in October, but would it be possible to say how many kids there were on opening day (and to compare that to last year’s opening day)? I would think the district must know, since all the kids had to be assigned to particular classrooms.The superintendent replied:
It’s our first opportunity to get an (admittedly limited) sense of whether the consultants’ capacity projections are borne out by actual enrollment figures. Since the facilities plan is a big topic of discussion in the board election, I’d hate to have to wait until October if there is even preliminary information available before September 10.
In order to ensure that conversations about enrollment are consistent we use the official state counts for all public discussion. As with past years, our numbers will continue to fluctuate between now and the official count as new students arrive and students who have left are unenrolled. Releasing information prior to the official count has generated significant confusion in past years. To address that confusion we adopted a practice of using the official state enrollment count for all public discussion. We will release those numbers, disaggregated by school, when they are finalized. Prior to that date we will contain our conversations about enrollment numbers to estimated changes in the aggregate (District and/ or school grade range including elementary, junior high school, and high school).So they have the information, but won’t tell us, because they’re afraid we’ll be confused? I’m not saying the district has something to hide, but this kind of paternalism drives me crazy. They need to stop treating the voters like children who have to be constantly managed for their own good. (They need to stop treating the children that way, too.) People are capable of understanding if counts are “preliminary” or “as of a certain date.” If “people might be confused” were a sufficient reason to withhold information, think how much could be withheld.
I also understand that the count would shed only limited light on the accuracy of the consultants’ projections (which is true of the October numbers, too). Still, you would think that the one-year-out projection would, if anything, be more accurate than those for later years. The enrollment numbers are important because the consultants’ high-end projection was part of the justification for all the district’s planned spending and construction, and for the closure of Hoover School as well. The opening-day count, especially as compared to last year’s, is a piece of information that would be useful to the public in the discussion of issues leading up to the election of school board members. It’s particularly unseemly for the district to withhold information at a time when people are exercising their right to oversee the very people who are withholding the information.
Enough with the paternalism.