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Central Texas School Districts Fighting Back Against Excessive Student Absences
Texas educators are calling it one of the biggest threats to a student’s education, but it isn’t violence or any kind of illness, it’s simply being absent from school.
On average, there are more absences in Central Texas schools than anywhere else in the state with and estimated 2.4 million, and now educators are coming together to raise public awareness about the issue.
E3 Alliance and the Austin Area Research Organization launched a public awareness campaign called Missing School Matters with a series of public service announcements that will air on television and radio.
Joey Del Valle is a senior at Stony Point High school in Round Rock and is on track to graduation and looking forward to college. It’s a big change from where he was a few years ago. “I decided I couldn’t deal with it and decided to drop out of school,” he says. He was only in the eighth grade and he stayed home most of the year.
Joey was able to jump back in and get his grades up but educators say even missing one day can hold kids back. Amy Dieta is a Teacher at Stony Point and says when kids miss school, they miss out on a lot of information. “A lot of instruction from your teachers, you miss out on the opportunity to ask questions,” she says.
But it isn’t just education that is lost -- school districts lose state funding each day a student is absent. In the Round Rock School District, for every child who misses a day of school the district loses $33.85 in funding. An average of 1,800 students are absent in the Round Rock School District each day costing the district nearly $61,000 in state funding. Over a year Round Rock ISD loses about $10.7 million.
“With more funding comes more opportunities for us to provide better instruction, better education for your child and we miss them when they are not here,” Dieta says.
Educators estimate increasing student attendance by three days in Central Texas would add 34 million in revenue to schools across our region.
By Lydia Pantazes