Detroit schools aim for strong count day

Oct 5, 2011

Detroit schools are doing everything they can to get students in class for the annual state “count day.”

The numbers recorded Wednesday are more important than ever. They’ll account for 90% of state aid to schools, up from 75%  in past years.

Some Detroit schools are using gimmicks and incentives, like iTunes gift cards and “get out of homework passes,” to boost their numbers.

But district spokesman Steve Wasko says the district has also put a sustained focus on attendance in the past month.

“It’s not just one special day of the year, or in Michigan’s case, two special day of the year, that students should be in classrooms. But the fact attendance is vitally critical every day, all day, every day throughout the school year.”

Wasko says the district “feels quite good about progress on attendance and enrollment this year.”

After some hiccups to start, Wasko says the district is averaging around 62,000 students in class every day. That’s roughly a 90% attendance rate.

Spokesman Steve Wasko says the district made very conservative enrollment projections—and it looks like they’ll probably meet them.

“We would appear to be in a good situation to meet or in fact perhaps slightly exceed that 65,800 mark that the budget is based on,” he says.

Detroit Public Schools had about 167,000 enrolled students in 2000.