It's a critical day for public school districts around Michigan. Wednesday is one of two "count days" which ties student attendance to funding.
Wednesday's count day represents 90% of state funding, while a second one in February represents about 10% of the state funding. Districts will get about $8,700 per student.
Tallying students during a pandemic is complicated. So, to account for students going between remote or in-person learning, or those in quarantine, districts have a 30-day window per state rules to count those students.
"All that funding goes to pay the cost of transportation, para-professionals, your office staff, administrators, really the whole gambit of expenses that you have," Dr. Glen Maleyko, the Dearborn Schools superintendent, said.
Not to mention operation expenses like building upgrades. State rules say that each district will get the minimum per student.
"If someone misses that day, then it doesn't mean that you don't get the funding because they weren't there for one day. It's just a lot more paperwork," he added.
Maleyko said the 30-day window is welcome flexibility, given last year's more relaxed rules due to COVID-19 are no more.
At that time, during the height of the pandemic, the state had a weighted formula that mixed 75% of the previous years' count with 25% of the 2020 pupil tally.
For the first year, Dearborn's virtual students have their own school within the district, which allocated some extra start-up dollars for it this year. Count day for online students functions the same way.
"It really goes to the same for an elementary school for example, because you need a certain number of teachers. so the budget for that is probably going to be similar," he said.
Virtual students will be counted during a virtual video, and those learning at their own pace without live instruction can be counted if districts can show two interactions between the student and their instructor during the count period.