District stresses good attendance

When Jane Milanes told her son’s elementary school that he’d be out of school for a family vacation early in the school year, she was surprised to receive a letter asking for a donation of about $30, to make up for the money the school would lose because of his absence.

Many more parents of children in the San Mateo-Foster City School District will start receiving similar letters, as district leaders attempt to educate parents about the connection between their children’s attendance and the schools’ coffers.

The school district is paid per “derriere in the chair,” district officials explained, meaning that higher attendance translates to more cash for the district at a time when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening a 10 percent budget cut for schools.

Raising attendance is a less painful way to generate funds, she said. As it stands, the district’s attendance rate is a little more than 96 percent, said Michaela Ochoa, the district’s finance director. An increase to 97 percent would bring in another $500,000 per year for schools.

“If students are ill, obviously they can’t come to school,” Rosas said. “But we might ask parents not to take vacation during school hours, or to schedule their dentist or orthodontist appointments after school instead of during school hours.”

A program aimed at boosting attendance is just one of several measures the district is considering to help make ends meet during the state cutbacks, district spokeswoman Joan Rosas said.

On Thursday, the district’s board of trustees will consider laying off dozens of school aides — including educators that work in classrooms, with students with special needs and in libraries — Rosas said. The district may also start charging more for its facilities and fields, and begin — for the first time ever — to charge students as much as $400 for some summer school classes, she said.

As for parent Milanes, she said she was happy to contribute to the school when her son was absent earlier this year, but was shocked that she was even asked to do so.

“My son had just transferred from a private school, and this was our first experience in the public school, and I was shocked — I thought, ‘Wow, they’re really hurting if they have to send a letter like this home,’” she said.

kworth@examiner.com

Just Posted

Climate strike organizers say SFUSD blocked student participation

The organizers behind Friday’s Climate Strike in San Francisco are accusing the… Continue reading

City puts closure of long-term mental health beds on hold

In response to public outrage over a proposal to suspend 41 permanent… Continue reading

Here we go again – new dog rules in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The GGNRA released a 2019 Superintendent’s Compendium that makes significant changes that appear to implement parts of the ill-fated Dog Management Plan.

Thousands take to San Francisco streets in Climate Strike

The protesters are calling for urgent action on climate change, including putting pressure on local elected leaders to support more drastic steps.

Good Day Sept. 22-24, 2019

Mark Morris Dance Group, Presidio Theatre Open House, PUSHFest, Community Music Center Sunday, Making Faces-Portraits by John Kascht, WWE Monday Night Raw, Margaret Atwood, George Takei, Durand Jones, Kurt Ribak, Incubus

Most Read