Make Sure Your Students Are Counted

By Del Stover

The big count is about to begin. This spring, the federal government will launch the 2010 census, the constitutionally mandated tally of American residents that’s conducted once each decade.

For school boards, the census is important for how it will influence their educational efforts. And it will do so in many ways. Census data will be used to help distribute nearly $4 trillion in federal funds over the next decade. It will guide the redrawing of congressional, state, and yes, school board election boundaries, starting as early as 2011.

And it will reveal just how much the nation and your communities have changed over the past decade.

The most obvious -- and direct -- impact of the census clearly will be on future funding. Census data is used to allocate Title I funds, Reading First grants, aid to children with limited English proficiency, support for special education services, and money for school reform initiatives, as well as funds for dozens of other federal programs.

“It’s critically important for school districts,” says Mary Kusler, assistant director of policy and advocacy at the American Association of School Administrators. “As long as we continue to receive so much funding from the federal government, and the eligibility of so many grants is based on what the census counts, it’s going to impact school funding.”

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