The board waited to call the meeting to order because with board members Joan Terrell and Sharon Simmons absent for the evening, Davis and member Deborah Bridges had to wait for Vice-Chairman Skip Howe to arrive so they could have a quorum. In the meantime, the principals gave reports on how putting their school improvement plans into action had affected the schools.
Later in the meeting, had a first reading of a new attendance policy for the district. Superintendent Tim McGinnis said that he always thought that Trigg County’s policy was “pretty generous” and that they needed to tighten it. He said that too many high school students were missing a large number of days, and that they needed to do something to “help the work ethic.” He noted that a large number of student absences has a huge negative impact on the money they receive from the state. He said that last year’s number of absences in the district amounted to losing 36 students, or a total of $120,000.
Travis Hamby, the assistant superintendent of personnel and operations, said that a student is counted as tardy if he or she is absent from school for 60 minutes or less. Any amount of time more than that is counted as an “absence event.” He said that Trigg County currently allows parents up to 10 notes to get a student’s unexcused absence changed to an excused absence. After that amount, a note from a doctor is required to get the status changed to an excused absence.
Hamby said he looked into the number of parents’ notes that other districts in the area allowed, and found that Trigg County’s policy was the most lenient. The lowest number of allowed parents’ notes was four, so he suggested allowing a maximum of six excused absences through parental notes. He noted that Kentucky law considered students with three unexcused absences to be truants and those with six or more unexcused absences to be “habitual truants.”
Read more in this week's Cadiz Record about all of the School Board's actions.