October 31, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 28

Cheney headcounts remain flat while FTEs increase

Cheney School District’s headcount enrollment remained flat through the first two months of the 2013-2014 school year, while full-time equivalent students increased by almost 14.

A total of 4,196 students occupy desks and lockers within the district in October, a decrease of two students over beginning of the year numbers in September. FTE numbers however went up to 4,036, from 4,022.40, which reflects an average increase of 114.30 FTEs over last year’s number, and 54.20 more than budgeted.

Kassidy Probert, district executive director for finance and operations, said the reason for the FTE vs. headcount changes is due to some shifts of students at the high school. A student doing part-time Running Start in September, for instance, would have an FTE of .5 while a student part-time in the skills center would be an FTE of .6, but both would be a headcount of one student each. If they then decide not to do Running Start or the skills center in October, they would then become an FTE of one each.

“As you can see in the above examples we have a lot of students in the high school switching their statuses from September to October as they get settled in for the school year,” Probert said in an email. “Which results in the headcount being flat, but the FTE shifting more dramatically depending on what type of enrollment the students choose.”

The school board also heard news the district’s beginning fund balance started September at $1,618,923, a figure that represents a reserves level of 3.94 percent. District officials want to keep reserve levels at 5 percent, but gave Superintendent Dr. Debra Clemens the authority in July to spend down to 3 percent because of continuing economic and school funding uncertainties.

“We’re still below that 5 percent where we want to get to but at this time that 3.94 percent is solid,” Probert told the board.

District expenses outpaced revenues in September by $213,133, with $2,994,897 coming in and $3,208,030 going out. Probert said the overage was due to beginning school year supplies purchases, which he felt staff did a good job of cost control, adding revenues should pick up in October.

School board directors also heard an informational presentation from Clemens and assistant superintendent Sean Dotson on the 2013-2014 work plan being presented to staff at the district’s eight school buildings. The plan outlines goals and values for student learning while also providing progress indicators in district-wide student growth in reading and mathematics as well as end of course (EOC) results for year 1 math, year 2 math and biology.

The plan outlines benchmarks for meeting Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, something Dotson said isn’t about purchasing new materials but rather transitioning to standards providing a higher degree of rigor than current instruction.

The plan also outlines the P-5 Intervention Framework for school counselors adopted over the summer and addressed several aspects of facilities, including revisiting the 2008 facilities study and survey for possible updates.

“We did want to revisit Sunset Elementary School to determine if adding onto that school would be a good determination,” Clemens said.

Finally the school board held a first reading on revised school board policy No. 3240, Student Conduct and Expectations and Reasonable Sanctions. Dotson said several language recommendations were added, including language that clearly states examples from a 22-item list that are unacceptable.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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