Student attendance in October, November critical to district funding

FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Missing class means missing instructional time, but it also means school districts miss some big dollars.

"The MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) formula, attendance is part of that formula," explained Forrest County superintendent Brian Freeman.

The state bases part of school districts' funding on the average daily attendance (ADA).

"The monies that we get from our ADA will apply right back to the classroom so that we can do the things we need to do at a high level throughout our district," said Petal superintendent Matt Dillon.

Although every month of the school year is important, both Freeman and Dillon said the months of October and November are key to linking attendance to funding.

"We want children at school year round, regardless of what month it is, but particularly these months," said Freeman.

There's a trick to being counted present. A student must be in a classroom for 63 percent of the day, and that only includes instructional time.

"We are under the 63 percent rule as we were last year, so it's very important for our students to be there, so we strongly encourage our parents to, if possible, arrange doctor appointments after hours in order to help adhere to that new rule," said Dillon.

It's only the second year it's been in place, but administrators hope the legislature will reconsider the formula.

"Talking to other superintendents across the state, I know that we would like for the legislature and the leaders to look at other options for us," explained Dillon.

The other option would be average daily membership (ADM). Instead of calculating daily attendance, ADM would look at the bigger picture- average enrollment.

"That would be a bigger snapshot or a more clear snapshot of what we need in order to run a school system," explained Freeman. "I do hope that they do look at that because we do have to provide those services whether a child comes to school or not."

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