Although attendance rates exceed 95 percent for every local school, officials are reviewing a draft of a plan to address student absences, said Kathy Collins in a school board planning meeting.
Dr. Collins, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, distributed a draft of the McDuffie County Attendance Outreach (MCAO) to school board members in response to new state legislation addressing absenteeism and discipline in schools.
"Our task is to put together a plan by July, 2005." Dr. Collins said.
The MCAO draft is based on a model from the state and will provide guidance for the schools on the procedures for handling absenteeism.
Recent legislation from the state, House Bill 1190, addresses attendance and discipline in schools.
One key provision of the bill allows for the revocation of driver's licenses for one year for students who commit a serious offense or receive more than 10 unexcused absences in a semester, according to a press release from Governor Sonny Perdue's office.
In addition, another provision calls for the creation of attendance protocol committees for each district. As part of those requirements, "The whole region will come together," Dr. Collins said. The legislation requires representatives from 13 agencies to be part of the protocol committee.
Even before the legislation, attendance in McDuffie County Schools was important, Dr. Collins said.
Attendance is used by many schools as an indicator for Adequate Yearly Progress under the No Child Left Behind act. McDuffie County elementary schools chose attendance as an AYP indicator, and the school system made AYP this year, but many school systems did not because of the 15-15 rule: schools are not proficient when 15 percent of students have more than 15 absences.
Excessive absenteeism has not been a problem locally, Dr. Collins noted.
"Our kids like to come to school, and we like for them to come," she said.
"The critical thing is, we can teach them when they're here, and we can't teach them when they're not."