St. Cloud School District Succeeding With School Attendance
ST. CLOUD - While many schools across the country are struggling to cut down unexcused absences, the St. Cloud area school district says they're doing well with attendance rates.
According to the U.S. Education Department, an estimated 5 to 7.5 million students are absent 18 or more days of school each year, or nearly an entire month. A new "Every Student, Every Day" campaign was launched in October by the Obama administration to help districts identify children who are frequently absent and find ways to keep them in school.
The St. Cloud area school district monitors excused and unexcused absences. Excused absences include anything from illness to sporting events. Unexcused absences are recorded when the school hasn't been notified, the absence could have been avoided or when a prior arragement hasn't been approved by the principal.
Assistant superintendent Marsha Baisch says the district will send a letter to parents after three unexcused absences and a second letter and phone call after five. If a student has seven unexcused absences, it's reported to the county attorney's office.
"Students who do have issues are brought to a support team, we want to be sure that we don't let it get out of control."
Joni Olson, the executive director of student achievement and strategic alignment says St. Cloud area schools are doing much better compared to others in the country.
"I'm not feeling like we have any big problem. Our principals keep a close watch on attendence, going over the recent data we're right around the 95 percent range."
Students who are chronically absent are referred to the county truancy mediation services. Fines and community service hours can be consequences, but Olson says they usually focus on working with the families to get the student back on track.
"Stearns County is who we work with the most, they have a truency-mediation program that works with families to help with whatever is causing that student to miss school."