Count day at williamston high school shows increase in student numbers

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Williamston High School students catching the bus.

Williamston High School students catching the bus.

By Kirsten Rintelmann
The Williamston Post

On Wednesday, Oct. 1, the Williamston School District held its first of two count days for the 2014-2015 school year.

Count Day establishes how much funding a public school will receive and each student that attends class determines how much total money it will get. For public schools, including Williamston High School, Count Day is really important.

The money goes into the general fund and split into spending areas. According to Jeffrey Thoenes, principal, 80 percent pays staff salaries. The remaining 20 percent is used for district spending that includes but is not limited to lighting, utilities, maintenance, plowing and technology.

Exact pupil count for this year has not been determined, but according to Thoenes, the number of students attending WHS is approximately 575. This is more than last year’s count where the number was roughly 560. If WHS increased it’s student count more than 20 students, this would also mean more money into the general fund.

Although the amount a school gets per student varies and also depends on the school, Thoenes says for the 2014-2015 school year, the Williamston School district would receive approximately between $7,100-$7,200 per student. This means that compared to last year’s nearly $4 million, this year WHS would see almost a $140,000 increase in funds, according to Thoenes.

WHS does not offer incentives to get their students to show up for count day.

“We have good daily attendance and don’t think we need them,” said Thoenes. “I’d say attendance is anywhere between 90 to 95 percent daily. Kids don’t think on micro-level about things like count day. They just show up for their education.”

However, if students are absent, that does not mean that they can’t be counted.

“We have 10 days to verify their absence if they are absent on Count Day,” said Thoenes, “It’s not an all-or-nothing deal.”

Not only is count day important to WHS staff, but also to a variety of students that attend.

Jessica Wilcoxen, Williamston High School sophomore, said there are certain areas that this year’s Count Day funds could actually help improve.

“Some of the biology books are old and the software on some of the computers is a little outdated,” said Wilcoxen. “It’d be nice to have things current.”

Wilcoxen also thinks that if school materials were up-to-date that it would also better her education.

“It’s really important to get the best education that I can,” said Wilcoxen.

While Count Day funds could help purchase newer and better learning material, some students also feel that it might be put towards educational programs.

“I also think the money from it should go toward art programs,” said Lara McLaughlin, Williamston High School senior. ” They are cut the most, but not everyone is an athlete and should be able to express themselves in an artistic way.”

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