School attendance important for funding

Published 4:09pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The attendance of students will be vital this month as state education officials look at future funding of local school systems.
Each year, attendance records are scrutinized beginning on the Tuesday after Labor Day through the end of September.
Randall Little, superintendent of education for Escambia County Schools, said daily attendance is critical when it comes to maintaining or increasing state funding for the system.
“The second school month determines the attendance for the entire year,” Little said. “The attendance reports from that time determines how much we get from state funding.”
Little said the average for the 2011-12 school year was 4,520 and funding for this year was based on that figure.
“We certainly want to maintain the funds we are receiving and would like to see an increase,” Little said. “The funding we receive is a direct result of attendance of our students throughout the county. That’s why we urge daily attendance — especially during this critical period.”
For Brewton City Schools, the scenario is the same — funding is dependent upon school attendance.
Lynn Smith, superintendent for Brewton City Schools, said the funding issues are critical across  the state and attendance is imperative for funding.
“We’ve lost about 25 students system wide this year and that will impact our funding for next year,” Smith said. “It is so important that students attend school to help out. We lost one and half teacher units from last year because of the numbers in attendance. We may already see a loss of up to two teacher units just from our decrease in students this year. We certainly want all of our students to attend class every day, but this first 20 days after Labor Day is critical for us regarding funding for the next school year.”
Smith said the attendance in the first 40 days of school is also used as a tool at the school.
“We look at the attendance in third through eighth grades in those first 40 days,” Smith said. “That figure is used when looking at our adequate yearly progress numbers. We have to have a 95 percent attendance on average for our enrollment to meet that goal in the No Child Left Behind reports.”
Both Little and Smith agreed that regular daily attendance at school is imperative a student to learn.
Smith said the regular attendance also helps a child learn how to be a productive adult.
“Getting up and coming to school every day sets up good habits for when you leave school and go into the workforce,” Smith said. “Even though you may not be feeling your very best, it’s important to go to school. Of course, we don’t want children who are truly sick to bring an illness to school, but there are days when just not being 100 percent is a reason to stay home.”
The period of record will continue through Sept. 28 for both Escambia County and Brewton City schools.

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