Northwest Allen County Schools has another issue to contend with concerning mask-wearing for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
At the April 26 school board meeting, in a 3-2 vote, the board decided to continue to adhere to the state-ordered mandate that masks be worn until the end of the school year. The two who voted against this were Board President Kent Somers and Steve Bartkus.
Somers is not the only person in his family who expressed opinions on the matter. His wife, Lisa Bobay-Somers, wrote her controversial solution to the people who also feel that students should be able to choose if they want to wear masks.
“Pull your kid and go remote for now. This will be hard for them now. It wont [sic] cost them any money now if you pull your kids. Next fall, sign up as usual and then keep your kids home on the day they count the kids. That’s the day they get their funding. If 600 kids are gone it would cost the school $5 million.”
What is the Count Day? It is when each school counts how many children are enrolled that semester. It happens twice a year. For example, this school year’s Count Day was on Sept. 18, 2020, and Feb. 1, once each semester.
Bobay-Somers is correct that each district gets funding for each student accounted for on that day, but according to the Indiana Department of Education, her statement is not completely accurate.
An article written by Arika Herron of the Indianapolis Star explained Count Day and went into detail about who can be counted as a student of the district. She wrote, “On count day, the Indiana Department of Education opens a ‘membership collection’ portal in its data collection system. Schools submit the students that are ‘enrolled and expected to be in attendance’ as of that day.”
According to her article that quoted Indiana Department of Education spokesperson Adam Baker, this language allows schools to still count students who are enrolled in the school but happen to be absent on Count Day.
Schools are counting students who are enrolled in remote learning in their numbers as well.
Indiana Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick wrote in a memo dated June 12, 2020, that students who receive more than 50% instruction virtually should be indicated as a virtual student in their count. The schools received 85% of its regular per-student funding for these students.
There are special circumstances where students would not be included in the counts. One example is a student who is enrolled but did not attend school at all before Count Day.
Pro-mask parents are concerned that Bobay-Somers is encouraging those against masks in the schools to perform acts that could prevent the school system from getting funding.
NACS parent Sarah Bridgwater stated she thinks Somers should resign as president in a Facebook comment and asked parents to contact the school district and show them Bobay-Somers’ comment.
“So please use this screenshot when you write to the school board today asking for Kent Somers to resign as he obviously cannot separate himself from these views,” Bridgwater wrote. “There is no way he can separate himself from the actions his wife is taking to damage our school system.”