Budd praised the students, teachers, coaches and principals involved with the academic team competitions. Although recent standardized test scores reveal an indisputable, district-wide need to improve math scores, the superintendent noted, the academic teams’ successes suggest that a quality education is available within the district to students who take advantage of available resources.
Also on Wednesday night, the board approved a significant change to the SDHS and NDHS handbook regarding unexcused absence policies at both schools. Present policy allows students 10 unexcused absences per nine-week grading period before a student grade is automatically lowered a single letter.
The board unanimously agreed that 10 unexcused absences per grading period – for a total of 40 per school year – is entirely excessive. Although the board formally lowered the standard to five per nine-week period, members expressed dissatisfaction with that number as well, labeling it as still “too high.”
Budd agreed that five unexcused absences per grading period is excessive, but that the new number represents a significant step forward in holding students and parents accountable for attendance. He also assured board members that the district is working with Greensburg Community Schools to develop a county wide standard, which they will use to partner with area prosecutors, truancy officers, Child Protective Services agents and others to enforce.
The board also discussed the difficulties frequently encountered in contacting chronically-truant students and student parents. They also sought clarification of who at each school is in charge of contacting such students and parents. Budd assured the board that the district’s currently-out-of-service automated calling system will be back on line with the launch of the new school year in the fall.
Newly-hired School Resource Officer Rob Duckworth told the board he’s legally permitted to visit the home of truant students and that he has already done so during his six-week tenure.