Keeping students in the classroom

Fulton school district seeks to be more proactive with attendance, could affect funding under new state law

With a new state law requiring every child to attend school 90 percent of the time, Fulton Public Schools administrators are taking a look at how they implement their attendance policies.

In light of the new law, Superintendent Jacque Cowherd said the district has recently been working on reviewing its attendance procedures and making them more consistent from building to building as part of an overall strategy to encourage better attendance.

“There’s a process for teachers and administrators to be contacting parents to find out where that child’s at, what they’re doing and how we can help,” Cowherd said. “This is not just overall ADA (average daily attendance), it’s every kid, every day. We’re looking at are we consistent, are we offering appropriate incentives to get to school and are we helping them when we get them here?

“The bottom line is, we want kids to come to school.”

District parents will receive a letter Monday to bring parents’ attention to this new focus and reminding them of the importance of daily school attendance.

According to the letter, the district serves as parents’ partner in their children’s success by:

• Creating a positive atmosphere in each building.

• Having safety procedures in place to ensure a safe school.

• Having defined processes and strategies to check on absent students.

•Having age-appropriate attendance/academic incentives in each building.

• Having processes to reduce penalties resulting from excessive absences.

The letter emphasizes that “Fulton procedures allow for excused and unexcused absences however, the State of Missouri School accreditation and funding rules do not. Excused or unexcused status is only a district function relating to how a student may receive credit for missed work and/or activities.”

“Effective immediately, with the revised Missouri School Improvement Program, MSIP 5, every child must attend 90 percent of the time,” the letter states. “Students that do not meet the state definition cause the district to lose accreditation points and funding.”

He said particular attention was paid to the intervention and engagement strategies intended to draw students in to school.

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