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Communication Studies


Truancy sweeps planned for Marysville students

Hardeep Sahota
Capital Campus News
October 31, 2004

The Marysville Joint Unified School District is looking to increase revenue through attendance after hiring an attendance coordinator who is planning truancy sweeps to get students in class.

Gay Todd, assistant superintendent of educational services, said the district receives about $29 per student who attends school.

“The more days they attend, the more money we receive, which then allows us to pay our teachers and pay utility bills, as well as provide specific programs for students,” Todd said.

The district lost about $30,000 last year to truancy, but hopes to recover about $100,000 this year, Todd said.

The district has created a new attendance position, which would keep track of all attendance issues in the district, as well as look into disciplinary action. This is the first time the district has had such a position, Todd said
Jolie Carreon, coordinator of student discipline and attendance, will try to bring students back to school.

Carreon’s position is needed even more after the state said schools can no longer receive money for excused absences, Todd said.

“A couple of years ago, we would receive funding if we could get a parent to send a note in saying my child was sick,” Todd said. “The state has changed that so that you get paid if they’re there, you don’t get paid if they’re not there.”

Carreon’s salary is funded through a general fund that the district can use for a number of reasons, and Todd hopes that the new position will bring in more money for the district
“Our belief is that it will in fact bring additional revenue to the district based on the number of students we’re able to find and bring back to school, and to help them get into a regular pattern of attending school,” Todd said.

Carreon has already been to the homes of students who have been chronically absent. She recalled one story where a student was still sleeping when she went to his house, and she had to talk him into coming to school.

Carreon said the parents usually go to work before their children leave for school or they usually buy into the excuses their children give.

“I want to get to know who the kids are,” Carreon said. “I want them to know we have a vested interest in them.”

In trying to get more students in school, Carreon plans on having monthly truancy sweeps. These sweeps would include community members, probation officers and employees at the district. Carreon said she hopes to have about 30 people involved in the sweeps.

The sweeps would involve going to the homes of students who have been truant and speaking with their parents to see why they are absent.

“We’re all really in this together,” Carreon said. “And that’s kind of my job – to make sure that the community becomes aware.”

The sweeps will target mostly high school students, but she hopes during the sweeps to not only find truant high schools students, but their younger siblings who are not attending school, as well, Todd said.

According to the district’s Web site, the attendance goal for 96 percent attendance for kindergarten through fifth grade, 96 percent for middle schools and 95 percent for high schools.

The attendance at the schools is something to be aware of, Todd said. She also said that most schools are good at maintaining the attendance goal for their school. A recent trend shows that attendance begins to drop in December.

“There are times during the year when flu season hits, so that can wipe out a whole family and their attendance,” Todd said.

Todd said there are usually lows in the percentages and the district lets the schools know how they are doing.

The district requires that all seniors have an attendance of 95 percent throughout their senior year. For students who were sick and missed school, the district has given them the option to make up those missed hours of school.

“One of the other pieces we’re putting into place is Saturday school, which is helping students make up those hours of lost attendance,” Todd said. "It is an academic setting. They come in and have specific assignments to do and it’s hour for hour.”

Eric Preston, assistant principal of Marysville High School, said he feels the number one goal in the district should be student academics and learning, but he understands that attendance is important, too.

Attendance brings in money and without money, students wouldn’t be getting a good education or a safe environment, he said. Preston said that the school is going to try and get money from anywhere it can.

“We’re going to be all over it,” Preston said.

Bernie Rechs, a retired English teacher running for a position on the Board of Trustees, said the district and the schools need to make school more fun in order to have students attend.

“I think the district has to provide more kinds of activities that would encourage students to actually have a more enjoyable time,” Rechs said. “There needs to be something in school which makes a person actually come to school other than academic classes.”

Sports played a huge role when he was in high school, but for other students it could be band or music, which makes them want to come to school, Rechs said.

This sentiment is shared by Preston. Schools must compete for students, whether it is through chess club, debate team or sports, Preston said.

The PTA supports the attendance goal, and understands that students should be at school when health permits, or they will be missing crucial instruction, Todd said.