By Susan Thacker 530News –
Attendance problems are on the rise at Great Bend High School, which is why the school board has approved a new position for an attendance counselor.
Over the last three years, the high school’s low socioeconomic status population has increased from 47 percent to nearly 70 percent and all of the issues that go along with that have increased as well.
“Cuts to services create more cracks to fall through,” GBHS Assistant Principal Daryl Moore said. The amount of time spent with court officials has almost doubled, and Moore said he spends most Tuesdays in court dealing with students.
“The biggest thing they have in common is their attendance,” Moore said.
The number of students with jobs after school has grown from 20 percent to 40 percent. Many work to help with family expenses.
Students are asked to close during school nights at 9 or even 11 p.m. and then cannot make it to school the next day or are so tired that they do not function well. Others are called out of school to fill work rosters.
Employers need to be part of the solution, Moore said.
“We can’t have them call students at 11 and say, ‘come cover a shift.’ Don’t have them closing two or three nights a week.”
Those aren’t the only attendance obstacles to overcome.
“A lot of parents really don’t know the expectations we have of their kids being in school every day, and having a time and place to do homework,” Moore said.
Some students have transportation issues, others stay at home to watch younger siblings who are sick and cannot go to day care, because the parent cannot afford to miss work. There are also students who do not want to come to school or who cut classes.
Administrators said they hope to stop attendance problems early, become they become a pattern. Truancy can also lead to a student being removed from the home.
“We’d like to put a lot more steps between us and those situations,” Assistant Superintendent John Popp said. If attendance problems can be stopped in the freshman year, a student has a greater chance of going on to graduate.
1. Monitor daily and hourly attendance, contact parents by email or phone when a student is absent and has not been called in before school.
2. Make parents aware of the district’s expectations for attendance and explain attendance policies and procedures.
3. Follow up on fake calls, doctor’s notes and doctor’s appointments.
4. Make home visits with the school resource officer to families of repeat offenders.
5. Work in tandem with law enforcement to get students to school
6. Work with Project Stay, Department for Children and Families, St. Francis and the Boys and Girls Homes on attendance and PEP (Public Education Partners) and Gear Up.
7. Work closely with county clerk and county attorney with students who are truant and be present for the court dates of students who are truant.
8. Work with the families, local charities, public transportation and churches to explore transportation possibilities.
9. Work with managers and employers of high school students to have a schedule that allows the student to work but also to be present and effective at school.