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Administrators in Anchorage, Alaska, cranked up the volume on their annual back-to-school campaign a few weeks ago when, after scanning district attendance rolls, they realized they were more than 4,000 students off from their projected enrollment.
District leaders appeared on the nightly newscasts and the morning radio shows, they extended in-person registration into the weekend, called parents of kids who were MIA, and then dispatched teachers to start knocking on students’ doors.
For every kid who shows up for class this month and next, the district gets about $10,000 from the state, so a dip that dramatic could ultimately cost tens of millions of dollars and result in widespread layoffs.
“We need to do everything we can to get kids enrolled right now,” said Jim Anderson, the Anchorage district’s chief financial officer. “This is the running of the bulls.”
Across the nation this fall, the coronavirus pandemic