Lack of attendance causes funding cut issues

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pearl River Central lost state funding because their student attendance did not meet the 63 percent rule as written in House Bill 1530, meaning the district was forced to make staff cuts through attrition.

Fortunately, this will not mean the financial burden will fall on Pearl River County taxpayers. Yet.

The district’s reserves, and their cuts in staff and some services, will mean a balanced budget for the next fiscal year.

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However, this poses a long-term problem for not only the district, but students as well.

If students are not in their classes during instructional time, they are not learning what they need to know in order to pass their state testing. If they can’t pass their state testing, they will not graduate.

There are times when students must be checked out of school in order to make doctor or dentist appointments, or even times when a family emergency necessitates the child being checked out or absent. However, those absences are counted as excusable under House Bill 1530, so these absences are not the problem.

The problem occurs when children are checked out of school, or miss school, for an inexcusable reason.

When that child misses 37 percent of the instructional day due to an inexcusable reason, they are counted as absent by the state. That absence reduces the amount of funding each school district receives.

No matter how many children show up, the district still has utility bills, staff salaries and other expenses to pay.

Blame for this situation can be placed in at least two camps, the parents for checking their child out of class early for whatever reason, or on the House for adding a bill amendment mandating students to be in class for 63 percent of the day.

No matter where the blame is placed, this is a problem that needs to be addressed.