This post is written by Jimmie Covington, veteran Memphis reporter with lengthy experience covering governmental, school, and demographic issues. He is a contributing writer with The Best Times, a monthly news magazine for active people 50 and older.   

By Jimmie Covington

Weighted average daily attendance in Shelby County Schools moved up this year to 135,366 from last year’s 134,203 but the district’s ADA percentage dropped slightly from 77.92 to 77.65.

That’s because four of the county’s municipal school districts also had increases and a little larger percentage of the total.

Funding from county taxes and the schools’ one-half share of the countywide local sales tax are divided among the school systems based on the ADA percentages.

The ADA numbers are higher than regular enrollment numbers since they are weighted. Under the state’s Weighted Full-Time Equivalent Average Daily Attendance (WFTEADA) formula, the numbers of students are weighted differently in different grades in kindergarten through grade 12. There also is a higher weighting for some special education students and for students in career and technical education.

The ADA figures, based on certification of the state Department of Education, were sent by county Schools Supt. Dorsey Hobson to county Trustee David Lenoir and officials of the municipal school districts.

More Is Less

Even with the 1,163 ADA increase this year, the county system and other publicly funded schools operated within the district will receive less revenue from property taxes and the wheel tax if county officials are continuing to cap the revenue amount sent to schools from those taxes.

Since 2007, when A C Wharton was county mayor, the county administration and County Commission members have been limiting the school districts to the total listed in the county budget from the two taxes rather than the revenue actually produced by the taxes.

In doing so, the county government officials in most if not all the years prevailed on the county trustee’s office to hold back part of the revenue from one year to the next from the portion of the county property tax rate adopted for schools.

A legal opinion has never been presented to the public that the officials have had authority to do that.

The entire approach has been kept from the public either through the designs of the county officials themselves or as a result of news media reporters not understanding what they were hearing and seeing and thus failing to adequately report what was happening.

Funding Uncertainty

What is happening with the funding this year appears uncertain. Some changes were made at budget time last year, but the potential impacts were never made clear for the public.

The county’s education budget for the current school year shows $419.4 million the same as the previous fiscal year.

(The county numbers include the county district-operated schools and the other publicly funded schools in Memphis, the unincorporated area and the three county schools in Germantown.)

Since enrollment figures differ from ADA numbers, it is unclear whether the higher county district ADA numbers this year reflect a county schools enrollment increase.

The higher county ADA number is a reversal from last year’s results which showed the county schools ADA dropping 5,552 from the previous year—from 139,755 to 134,203.


A major shift involving two of the suburban municipal districts this year has led to a change in the enrollment in the two districts. That came as a result of last fall’s opening of the new grade 5-9 Lakeland Middle Preparatory School. Lakeland previously did not have a middle school and the suburb’s students in those grades had been served by the Arlington school district.

High school students in Lakeland will continue to attend Arlington High School unless or until Lakeland builds a high school.

Weighted average daily attendance numbers in the school districts this year (with last year’s numbers in parentheses) are:

Shelby County – 135,366 (134,203)

Arlington – 5,643 (6,223)

Bartlett – 10,795 (10,452)

Collierville – 10,348 (9,984)

Germantown – 7,250 (7,147)

Lakeland – 1,882 (1,118)

Millington – 3,048 (3,102)

The weighted average daily attendance percentages (with last year’s percentages in parentheses) are:

Shelby County – 77.65 (77.92)

Arlington – 3.24 (3.61)

Bartlett – 6.19 (6.07)

Collierville – 5.93 (5.80)

Germantown – 4.16 (4.15)

Lakeland – 1.08 (0.65)

Millington – 1.75 (1.80)

This article appears in the latest issue of Best Times.


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