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School board to consider attendance policy to address dropout increase

By Rebecca Rider
rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Local schools are considering a change in policy to help curb high dropout rates.

The move comes after a state report showed that Rowan-Salisbury Schools had one of the state’s largest percentage increases in dropouts over a three-year period. The Consolidated Data Report for the 2015-16 school year was released Jan. 26. It showed that over the past three years, dropout rates for local schools climbed sharply. The district reported 194 dropouts in the 2015-16 school year, a 22.8 percent increase from the 158 who left area schools in 2014-15.

Several programs are already in place to encourage students to stay in school, but on Monday school leaders will consider adding another one.

The Board of Education will hold a work session to look at amending its current attendance policy to help address the issue.

According to the state report and findings listed on the board’s agenda, attendance and missing too many days of school is the No. 1 reason that students drop out. To help combat this, the board will consider an amendment to the attendance policy dealing with excessive absences.

The current policy is that students who are excessively absent or tardy to class may be subject to discipline and that parents will be notified by the school’s principal.

Should the amendment be approved, however, the system will seek to intervene after a student misses eight days in a single semester or 16 days in a school year. Those students would be subject to a review by a committee to assess other forms of academic achievement, why the student has excessive absences and how much missed work has been completed.

The principal would then make a decision among four options: the student would not pass the semester or move on to the next grade; the student’s grade would be reduced; the student would receive a grade otherwise earned; or the student would be allowed extra time to complete missed work.

The policy would exempt students with absences excused because of documented chronic health problems.

The board will meet at 1 p.m. Monday in the Wallace Educational Forum boardroom, 500 N. Main St.

In other business, the board:

  • Will consider approval of a new three-year lease with Apple Inc.
  • Review the reduction of student parking fees and consider approving discretionary money for certain high schools.
  • Examine the proposed school calendar for the 2017-18 school year.
  • Consider approving a language immersion and global studies magnet program at Koontz Elementary School.
  • Consider forming a committee to make name recommendations for the new western elementary school.
  • Receive updates on the state’s class-size mandate.
  • Receive updates on teacher recruitment strategies.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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