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Fifth-grade teacher Patricia Jordan helps a student during class Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, at Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy & The Vanquard School in Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Daily attendance is essential to student success, but being at school Wednesday is especially important.

Oct. 3 is this year’s “official count day,” when the state’s 178 public school districts tally enrollment, which determines school funding.

The schools have a week’s window to tabulate enrollment on an alternative day, though, ending Oct. 10 for schools with five-day weeks.

Results won’t be released until January.

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While incentives for students to attend classes Wednesday aren’t prohibited, they don’t seem to be offered.

“I haven’t heard of our schools doing that, but they do make parents aware in newsletters, on social media, on their website, about what purpose it serves,” said Devra Ashby, spokeswoman for Colorado Springs School District 11, the region’s largest district with more than 27,000 students.

The student count is used to calculate school demographics, the number of youths in specific instructional programs, how many qualify for federal free and reduced-cost lunches, indicating household poverty, and the all-important distribution of state money.

Pupil counts help determine how much tax money schools get under Colorado’s School Finance Act.

The projected base per-pupil funding for fiscal 2018-19 is $6,768.77, according to the state Department of Education. Money is added to that base depending on other factors, including districts’ revenue from local property taxes.

The average operating expense per student from all funding sources was $9,246.99 in the 2016-17 school year, said state department spokesman Jeremy Meyer.

The department promoted the national “Attendance Awareness Month” campaign in September to encourage attendance among students.

“Other than that, Wednesday is a standard data-collection procedure that takes place every year,” Meyer said.

Public school attendance overall has been stagnant statewide. The rate for last school year was 92.5 percent, and it hasn’t improved over the past two years, according to state education officials.

A focus for the department is the state’s “chronic absenteeism rate” of 1-in-5. Absence is considered chronic when a student misses 10 percent or more of a school year, about 18 days. That’s equivalent to two days every month.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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