Heights Charter Enrollment Stands Above 1,200 Students

Andrew Trzaska | November 19, 2012

Enrollment at Muskegon Heights Public School Academy on its October count day came in at about 85% of the budgeted goal put forth by charter operator Mosaica Education back in July.

October’s official count day, which helps figure out what amount of state aid school districts receive, yielded a count of 1,222, in line with recruitment hopes but just over 200 students short of a projected number set forth in its budget projections.

When talks of enrolling students started over the summer, Regional Vice President Alena Zachery-Ross shared a goal of 1,200 students.  Budget forecasts, however, laid out back in the summer assumed a 2012-2013 enrollment of 1434. The company expects enrollment to grow each year, reaching 1577 by the 2016-2017 school year.

While the recruitment number appears to have been met, only reaching 85% of what the budget hoped for means for the district’s bottom line is unclear at this time.  Zachery-Ross noted that the 1,200-plus enrollment number has been maintained all year, so it appears that number can be counted on as stable for the coming months.

Visible at Monday’s meeting were multiple tools to keep enrollment stable and staff retention high, including teacher project recognition for things like digital camera and drum classes, as well as student of the month recognitions.

Even with stable enrollment, it is clear that the district will have to trim somewhere in their budget. For the time being, the district’s budget appears stable.

Mosaica’s Senior VP of School Finance Roger Gray gave the multi-year forecasts back in July, as well as Monday’s budget update.

Gray indicated that the school district had a sufficient cash balance, however that was borrowed money needed to get the district up and running.  State aid payments just started arriving, making the district’s funding more regular:

“As of October 30 the school was operating on borrowed cash. State aid for the district is now flowing [and will arrive] at the end of each month.”

Further financial review by the district’s current emergency financial manager, Dr. Donald Weatherspoon began when Muskegon Heights Public School Academy submitted a required financial report to him back on October 14, which contained an income statement, balance sheet and other financial documents.

Board president Arthur Scott assured those present that transparency would be provided to the public:

“We want to keep you informed. We are following the process… as stewards of the fund we want to keep you informed.”

-Andrew Trzaska

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst