School & District Management

High Stakes for Detroit Schools on Count Day

By Dakarai I. Aarons — September 30, 2009 1 min read

Free breakfast and lunch for all students. Free skating tickets. Ice cream socials. Bicycle raffles.

Detroit’s public schools are making a full-court press effort to get students back in school. Today is Count Day, which is when an official enrollment number is recorded for state purposes.

Despite the carnival-like prizes, this is serious business for Detroit school officials. How high--or low--that enrollment number is will make a difference in the amount of state funding the school district gets.

It’s all been part of the district’s $500,000 “I’m In” enrollment and retention campaign.

Robert C. Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager, has been making the rounds at bus stops over the last few weeks to talk with parents and students. The district has also gotten a boost from comedian and education activist Bill Cosby, who flew into town twice to lend his star power to the effort.

For a district with a deficit of more than $250 million, every penny counts.
Bobb wants students to return not just to help the budget, but because he’s seeking to restore confidence in a school system that has long been criticized for dismal financial and academic returns.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.