The San Diego County Office of Education announced Thursday it is joining a national effort to combat chronic school truancy, which costs districts millions of dollars and stunts education for affected students.
The Attendance Works program is designed to raise awareness of problems associated with children missing class.
“Here at the San Diego County Office of Education, we are committed to supporting school districts and community partners so students will be successful in school, and attendance is one of the most critical factors connected to student success,” said Don Buchheit, the interim county assistant superintendent of schools.
September has been declared Attendance Awareness Month, coinciding with the beginning of the traditional academic year.
At a news conference, officials pointed to a 2013 report by the state Attorney General’s Office that said school districts in San Diego County lost $94.9 million in funding in 2010-11 because of truancy. That’s the most recent year in which figures are available.
Districts receive state money, in part, based on attendance. San Diego schools received $211.20 per student each day they were in class during that school year, according to the report.
The loss the year before was $102 million, according to the report.
It also pointed to a trend in which children who are chronically absent in the earliest years of elementary school quickly fall below grade-level in reading and are more likely to drop out when they’re older.
“When students are not in school, they’re at risk,” Juvenile Court Judge Browder Willis III said.
Nationwide, an estimated 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year, meaning they miss 10 percent or more of the school year in excused and unexcused absences, according to the SDCOE. That’s about 18 or 19 days in a typical year.
— City News Service
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