The importance of good school attendance

Guest CommentaryAugust 13, 2013 

The beginning of another school year is once again upon us. Parents and children have shopped for school supplies and new clothing, teachers have prepared their classrooms and the school sites are ready for the start of school. This is an exciting time of the year with the chance to make a fresh start and to develop those good habits that lead to future success.

One of those habits that schools hope will develop in all of our students is the pattern of good attendance. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between good school attendance and student achievement. Many studies indicate that students who attend school regularly are more likely to do well in their academic subjects. When students are absent, they miss out on important classroom instruction and learning opportunities. Our teachers plan engaging lessons in anticipation that all of the children will be there to experience them.

Some of these events cannot be duplicated if a child misses the initial lesson. Just by being present at school your child is learning how to be a good citizen by participating in the school community, learning valuable social skills and developing a broader world view.

Showing up at school regularly and on time also helps develop good habits for the future. Most employers take a dim view of employees who are late for work or who don't show up. Establishing the habit of responsibly and regularly attending school is a "gift" that parents can give their child that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Since 1998, our schools have received State funding for students who actually attend school each day. Our average daily attendance is around 95% of our total enrollment. We lose approximately $200,000 per year based on students not attending school. For each day a student is absent, the district loses more than $26.

Now, there are times when it is completely acceptable and parents are encouraged to keep students home from school. If your child is ill – please keep them home from school. Are they running a fever? Throwing up? Coughing excessively? These are all good reasons to keep children home from school and will assist us in preventing the further spread of illness.

Occasionally we have some attendance problems when children accompany their parents on trips to Fresno or Madera. The child may not be ill or have a medical or dental appointment. However, it is a convenience to take them along, and they miss a day of school. They miss valuable instruction and interacting with their peers. The school district misses out on funding opportunities.

If you find it necessary to keep your child out of school for reasons other than illness we encourage you to send your child to school for at least part of the day so that they will not be counted absent and also will not miss out on school assignments. It is not only crucial that our schools continue to receive the financial resources necessary to provide quality educational programs, but it is critical that students are regularly present at school to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided.

During the upcoming school year each of our sites will be offering incentives for students to attend school regularly. This year, in addition to the attendance letters reminding you of the importance (and legal requirements) associated with good school attendance, the district will be convening a School Attendance Review Board (SARB).

As you may know, parents/guardians of children aged six to 18 are obligated to send their children to school unless otherwise provided by law. The purpose of the SARB will be to monitor the attendance of all of our students and to work with the judicial system and probation department in cooperation with families to improve school attendance.

Your commitment to good school attendance will also send a message to your child that education is a priority for your family, going to school every day is a critical part of educational success and that it's important to take your responsibilities seriously including going to school.

Have a great school year.

— Glenn Reid is the superintendent of Bass lake Joint Union Elementary School District that includes Oakhurst Elementary and Oak Creek Intermediate schools in Oakhurst and Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee.

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