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Student Weights & Protecting Your Revenue Status

Student Weights & Protecting Your Revenue Status

There is no doubt this has been the strangest start to an academic year that any of us have experienced. The pandemic has caused some unusual permutations in state funding that require us to be more aware of student weights and ADM. Districts need to examine how they are protecting their revenue status for not only FY21 but for the following year as well. A district may not be able to get back to its high-year numbers simply off ADM loss, but the district's ancillary weights must be protected as much as possible.  

As we move forward toward the middle of the first quarter, we must remember there are several important student census data points to collect. Between now and October 1st, start looking at the following student categories:

  1. Gifted & talented student counts should be examined. Remember that students with high achievement levels may need testing to place them at the 97th percentile if they qualify.
  2. Special education child counts must be ready for the October 1st counts. If a school uses a virtual environment, the school must examine IEP modifications. The new year's IEPs and testing must be accounted for, any therapies should be documented and proof of offering services secured.
  3. Economically disadvantaged student numbers should be updated, and documentation should also be completed. With the amount of employment changes since March 15, 2020, this is the time to contact families to see if they need to fill out free and reduced lunch forms.
  4. Bilingual students should be accounted for and the appropriate documentation secured.
  5. If the district is using virtual instruction, a method for counting student attendance should be in place. Remember: ADA controls the amount of school land, county 4-mill, gross production and motor vehicle payments a district will receive in future years.    

One other item to check is the district’s estimate of needs (EON).  The EON may hide some issues to be researched. Ad valorem valuation is central to the district’s ad valorem, State Aid and sinking fund payment availability. If the district has had a bankruptcy or a tax protest, it is in the district's best interest to remember that while they may not be in a position to do anything about either of these things, they do need to adjust their revenue budget accordingly. The revenue budget will decrease until the bankruptcy is discharged or the tax protest is settled, but the valuation will still be on the district’s valuation until all the court and settlement proceedings are completed.  

When the board presents the EON for signatures and approval, it is the time to go over any changes in the EON and to discuss the impact on revenue collections. There is no substitute for good communication in this case. When you submit your EON, make sure you keep a copy for your own use. Once you received your EON from the county clerk’s office, you need to either email or post one of the copies to the SDE, email one copy to the state auditor’s office, and a good practice would be to place one copy on your school website. If there is a change in your valuation and consequential ad valorem payments due to the settlement of a tax protest, that needs to be communicated to State Aid if the amount of collections decreases. There is a process for this action.   

If we can be of service, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  

Andy Evans

Director, Finance

Andy serves as the Finance Director for OPSRC. In this role, he provides help in financial and business-related areas for schools. This includes budgets, managing cash flow, Estimate of Needs, federal programs and general service to aid in the effective use of district resources. Additionally, Andy serves as a resource in customizing budget spreadsheets, projection sheets, and other financial tools essential to administrators in maintaining their district’s financial health.

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