Students at the Bay County Public School Academy were allowed to wear blue jeans instead of uniforms on Wednesday as an incentive to make sure they came to school.
“It was enough to get them here,” said Principal Jennifer Parrish.
Principals and superintendents around Bay County wanted to make sure the highest number of students were in class Wednesday for the state’s count day, which falls at the end of September each year. The number of students in a district determines the school’s state funding. That funding is expected to be about $7,000 per pupil, although the state budget hasn’t been set yet.
In Bay County, Bay County Public School Academy, a charter school, was the only district to gain, with 58 more students compared to last year’s fall count.
“I think our smaller class sizes are helping,” said Parrish. “People have more of an awareness that we are here and we can offer personalized attention with our class sizes.”
The average class size is around 18 students, said Parrish.
In Bay City Public Schools, 8,878 students were counted Wednesday, down 75 students from last year.
“We predicted we were going to lose a little bit more actually,” said Marty Gottesman, director of student services for Bay City schools.
The district will see a bit of an increase in the final numbers after full-time equivalent numbers come in from parochial schools, said Gottesman. Public school teachers who teach subjects in the arts and foreign languages at parochial schools can add up those hours to equal a number of students.
Essexville-Hampton schools counted 24 fewer students than last year.
“We are losing students, not because of education quality, but because our students’ parents can’t find jobs,” said John Mertz, superintendent of Essexville-Hampton Public Schools.
Pinconning Area Schools had 78 fewer students and Bangor Township schools counted 54 fewer students. It was the first time in eight years that Bangor Schools reported a decrease in students.
Wednesday’s numbers were a preliminary count. The final counts should be calculated by the end of the week, school officials said.