Schools hope to increase first day attendance

Published 12:40 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2003

By By BILL CRIST Publisher
With schools struggling to keep budgets in the black, it would seem that everyone would jump at a chance to increase funding when it comes at no cost to the taxpayer. According to local school officials, though, some parents don't seem to understand how making sure their children are in school on the first day of class is so important.
Schools receive state funds for teacher units, which drives all other state funding to the schools, based on an average daily membership. The higher the membership, or attendance, the more teacher units a school will earn. More teacher units lead to more money for textbooks, insurance, supplies and a host of other expenses.
Talk to officials with the Brewton City Schools and the Escambia County Board of Education, and they'll tell you that enrollment is down. Part of that is based on an aging population locally, that has seen no significant growth, but they also fear that part of it may also be based on misunderstanding.
Average daily membership figures are generated during the first 40 days of a school year. Which means that the more students who attend class each day during the first eight weeks of the school year, the more money the school will receive from the state.
However, the first day is by far the most important. Locally, for each student that misses the first day, the schools will lose roughly $105. While that may not seem like a great amount when you consider the schools' overall budgets, it can add up quickly.
What school officials fear, is that as the school year begins earlier each summer, some students might be missing the opening days of the school year as families wrap up vacations and other activities. According to Donna Revel at the county BOE, the problem may also have been the day on which the first day of classes fell in the past.
Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith said that the city schools always begin on a Monday because the first day of class is so important.
Monday, August 11 is the first day of class for both the Brewton City and Escambia County school systems.