SOCSD launches attendance campaign

Sudduth Elementary School first grade teacher Kristi Swift, Sudduth Principal Elisabeth Mosley and SOCSD Superintendent Eddie Peasant with Swift's class, which had perfect attendance Friday. The district will begin a new attendance initiative for the months of October and November. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

For the next two months, the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District will be pushing attendance for its students. .

The district will launch its Show Up for Excellence campaign Monday, focusing on improving daily attendance in the months of October and November. Show Up for Excellence is under Expect Excellence Every Day, which Superintendent Eddie Peasant launched shortly after he started with the district in July.

“We can’t teach them if they’re not here,” Peasant said. “We are taking the months of October and November to increase awareness to students, but also to parents and our community about the importance of attendance. That’s our main goal.”

Peasant said the district’s attendance last year was between 94 and 95 percent, and the district was hoping the campaign would raise attendance by at least one percent. Incentives will be in place for students at class, school and district levels.

Sudduth Elementary Principal Elizabeth Mosley explained the importance of students getting to school on time.

“First grade reading starts at 8 o’clock,” Mosley said. “If that child is five to 10 minutes late every day, he could be missing 50 minutes of reading instruction, and it is so important at this level for them to get the foundational skills that they need in the other grades, and if they’re not here, they’re not getting that instruction.”

Attendance also affects district funding, of which average daily attendance is part of the formula. Currently, the district is losing close to $840,000 because of students who are not at school. A one percent increase would result in an increase in state funds of close to $200,000.

“At 100 percent, we’re eligible for a certain amount, and so at 96 percent, we would receive 96 percent of that total amount that we would be eligible for,” Peasant said.

In order to be counted as present, all students must be at school for at least 63 percent of the instructional day. Elementary students who arrive by 7:40 a.m. every day must remain in school until 12:15 p.m. to be counted present. If Necessary, a student can be checked out for approximately two and a half hours during the middle of the school day and still be counted as present. Elementary students must arrive no later than 10:20 a.m. in order to be counted as present.