Allen County's public school districts are reporting across-the-board increases in enrollment this year – a continuing trend for the suburban districts and more evidence the school voucher drain is slowing.
Friday was the Indiana Department of Education's collection day for average daily membership – a preliminary count of students enrolled in each district. It's an important number, as the state uses it to determine per-pupil tuition reimbursement to schools. A second enrollment count will be taken Feb. 1, but the September count determines funding.
The numbers are not yet official, as the state will track student identification numbers across schools and districts, but the preliminary figures tend to remain fairly stable.
Northwest Allen County Schools district reports enrollment this year at 7,693. That's an increase of 121 from the district's 2017-18 enrollment, as reported by the Department of Education. Southwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Phil Downs said enrollment in his district is up by about 90 students this year. The district last year enrolled 7,371.
Fort Wayne Community Schools reported 29,630 as its new enrollment, an increase of 161 from the DOE-reported figure last year. East Allen County Schools reported 9,807, up from 9,795.
A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education said statewide enrollment figures won't be available until mid-October. In March, the General Assembly approved spending $100 million from state reserves to cover a funding shortfall resulting from higher-than-expected public school enrollment. The state budget director was authorized to transfer $25 million from the tuition reserve account to cover last year's funding gap and up to $75 million this year. The state's biennial budget appropriation was based on figures that underestimated the enrollment of students in public schools.