School attendance vital for local school district budget

School attendance the next two months are crucial for a local school district.

The Forrest County School District's 2014 budget depends on student attendance for October and November.

In Mississippi, if the students do not attend at least 63 percent of the day, they are counted absent which will affect the school's funding for next year.

"Attendance has a big impact on what we can do in this district," said Forrest County School District Superintendent Brian Freeman. "An excused absence does not constitute funding, they have to be there 63 percent of the day,"

According to Freeman, the 63 percent of the school day does not count lunch, recess or art class. The courses have to be an academic course in order to qualify as attendance.

"If a child misses any portion of that, then even though they may be at school for half the day, or maybe even more, they're not going to be counted present for ADA purposes," said Dr. Ben Burnett, Lamar County School District Superintendent.

This Tuesday, 439 students were absent throughout the entire Lamar County School District, and that cost the district nearly $8000; however, this happens at all of the schools.

"At this time, we have found that we've lost about $30,000 with just check in and check outs.  That's not even including attendance," said Teresa Poole, Director of Schools in the Hattiesburg School District.

Poole said that they try to make school somewhere the students want to be.

"It all goes back to student achievement," said Dr. John Buchanan, Petal School District superintendent.  "If they're not there, we can't teach them.  It's hard to make up for missed days."

The administrators said making a routine is key to preparation for school.  A student should not come if he or she is severely ill, but the success of the school is based upon whether the student is sitting in front of his or her teacher each day, according to Buchanan.

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