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PE Attendance Drive

PRINCE EDWARD – County supervisors chipped in funds to encourage student attendance as March was coming to a close, but how well did it work?

“Well, it was interesting,” Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith responded when asked by Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt about it in a meeting earlier this month. “And we've gotten some mixed reactions.”

The attendance effort spanned the four days at the end of March and the superintendent cited that the only increase they could show at the elementary and middle school levels in comparison to the four prior days “was a nominal increase of between six and eight students in terms of daily attendance.”

At the high school, Dr. Smith added, “it didn't show an increase or a decrease.”

Still, he detailed, there's discussion underway on the possibility for some periodic incentive, not as large, on an ongoing basis-perhaps on a weekly or monthly basis at least at the elementary school. The high school is also having some discussions, he said

Supervisors, in a joint meeting with the school board in March, voted to chip in $1,600 to encourage students to attend school March 31.

The incentive offered children an opportunity to participate in a drawing for an X-Box or a Wii with one gaming system available at each of the four schools-elementary, middle, high and career tech center. Daily drawings were held each of the four days for gift cards and those attending all four days were eligible for the game system drawing.

(The thought expressed by some supervisors taking the action on the attendance incentive was that each student present in school on March 31 translates into about $5,500 in state funding for the school. However, the Average Daily Membership (ADM)-on which some state funding is determined-figure reported to the school does translate into $5,500 per student in state funding, it is not linked to a single day of attendance. ADM is calculated from the first day of school through March 31.)

“I met with my student advisory group yesterday,” Dr. Smith told supervisors, “and as one of those upper classmen said, 'You know, I really resent the idea that somebody's being paid for coming to school.' And I said, 'You know, for a student as good as you are, I'm sure you do because you don't need somebody to pay you to come to school, but for a student who has chronic attendance problems, is not doing well academically, doesn't have, unfortunately, the parents' support to help get them out the door and on the bus every day-if it made a difference for a few of those students, it was a good thing.' Will we know that it did or didn't with a hundred percent certainty? No. But, by trying, we showed a willingness to help motivate the students with a little different approach.”