Nearly 97 percent of children regularly attended classes in Merced elementary and middle schools in the last school year.
Greg Blount, director of information technology and support services for the Merced City School District, recently told Board of Education members that the 17 campuses recorded 96.32 percent attendance for the 2013-2014 school year that ended in early June.
About the most a school district can expect attendance-wise is 97 percent; a few schools can sometimes achieve 98 percent but that’s nearly impossible to sustain, Blount said. Seven of the 17 schools have maintained attendance better than their baseline average, which is their regular figure for the past three years.
Chenoweth, Franklin, Givens, Gracey, Peterson and Stowell elementary schools and Tenaya Middle School excelled; Gracey, Peterson and Sheehy elementaries and Cruickshank Middle School held at the 97 percent ratio. Burbank, Hoover, Muir and Reyes schools have work to do to meet the 97 percent average, according to Blount.
Board member Gene Stamm said he has been one of the biggest pushers in getting the district to stress high attendance.
“We have challenged the schools and they have accepted,” Stamm said. “Parents understand that getting their child to school is important and I hope that will continue.”
Greg Spicer, associate superintendent of administrative services, said the district’s enrollment Wednesday was 10,739 students, up about 130 students over spring figures.
Spicer said maintaining high attendance figures is a work in progress. Every principal is held accountable for the school’s attendance percentages, which are tallied every month and reported to board members.
The 97 percent attendance goal is difficult to attain, Spicer said. Some of the attention is focused on reducing chronic absences. Considerable effort is lavished on getting parents of chronic absentees to bring their children to classes or face legal consequences.
Gracey School’s attendance was 97.13 percent, up nearly half a percentage point, Blount said. Maintaining a 97 percent student attendance percentage is very achievable.
“I don’t know of any district that could maintain a 98 percent average,” Blount said. He has been tracking attendance numbers for about five years.
While the weather was cold it wasn’t very wet and flu incidence was low, Blount said, and the drought played a factor in keeping attendance figures high.