With Plumas Unified School District classes resuming this week, students and parents are focused on rounding up school supplies, buying new clothes and shoes for growing kids and coordinating schedules so everybody makes it out the door on time.
All of that is important, no doubt about it.
It’s also a good time to think about one more thing that is really important to local school budgets — improved student attendance.
And it’s important to the tune of about $300,000.
“Something that a lot of parents don’t realize is that regardless of the reason for the absence, the school does not receive any funding on days that their children are absent,” PUSD associate superintendent for Business Services Lisa Cavin said last week. “And while funding isn’t received, the operational costs remain the same (teachers, transportation, utilities, etc.).”
Addressing the district’s Governing Board of Trustees at an Aug. 8 meeting in Quincy, Cavin revisited an issue that has previously come before School Board President Leslie Edlund, Trustees Joleen Cline, Dave Keller, Dwight Pierson, and Traci Holt, also the clerk of the board.
Just a two-percent increase in student attendance could result in up to $300,000 more per year in funds for the district and its local school sites, Cavin told the board at the meeting.
PUSD has developed its 2018-19 school-year budget based upon having a steady enrollment of 1,830 K-12 students with an attendance rate of 93 percent.
There are 180 days in the local school year and school principals agree that absenteeism is often a problem at their sites.
Schools are funded for the Average Daily Attendance, or ADA, of students when they come to school.
The school board wants families to know that their students really need to be in school and in class to the greatest extent possible all year long.
“Believe it or not, no matter what the reason may be when a student misses a day of school, Plumas Unified receives no ADA funds for days when students don’t come to campus,” noted Trustee Pierson. “And it costs the district a lot of money. I think families should know that. The additional funding for coming to school could really help the district and their school sites.”
Cavin further clarified some funding points and advantages for PUSD in a statement to this newspaper after the meeting.
She said yes, if students increased their attendance just two percent more over the school year, PUSD would receive approximately $300,000 more in ADA funding for the entire district as long as enrollment did not fluctuate.
And, she added, “The $300,000 is only for our Local Control Funding Formula monies. We would receive additional funding from other sources as well, such as Title I, the California State Lottery and others.”
Asked how families can help and what does more attendance really translate to, Cavin explained, “This one doesn’t necessarily have a straightforward answer because you have some students who do not miss any days, and others who have chronic absenteeism. “The average equates to 167.4 days attended per student. If we increased by two percent, it would equate to 171 days. So you can see the disparity, as there are many students who miss fewer than nine days, but others miss substantially more.”
In a nutshell — Plumas County families can directly impact the financial health of their local schools and the district as a whole simply by boosting their efforts to make sure students attend school as regularly as possible every year since every day really does count.