District takes tougher stand on attendance

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School district has highest attendance mark in the past 31 years for 2011-12 year

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Student attendance interventions are working at the school, district, community and family level.  District attendance as reported on the Superintendent’s Annual Attendance Report (SAAR) for Bullitt County Public Schools for the 2011-2012 school year was 95 percent. 

This is the highest reported attendance percentage in the last 31 years and possibly longer than that.  It is an increase over last year of .33 percent from the 2010-2011 school year total of 94.67 percent.

Director of Pupil Personnel Pat Smith-Darnell reported the district is moving in the right direction and indicated everyone is working hard to ensure the positive trend continues.

The theme for this year has been “Communication is the Key to Excellent Attendance.” 

Good communication regarding attendance is important at home, at the school and district level, and at the community level. 

Attendance clerks in all the schools generate attendance reports and share them electronically with identified school and district staff. 

This allows the school administrators, guidance staff, district social workers and pupil personnel staff to review the information, identify students with attendance issues and discuss interventions.  In addition, each year school administrators develop school attendance improvement plans. 

They set attendance goals, review what has worked and what did not work in the previous year’s plan. 

They identify specific staff members to implement the plan that includes automated calls, personal calls, letters, home visits, student and parent conferences, and referrals to Family Resource or Youth Service Center Staff, guidance counselors, district social workers, or school administrators. 

District level interventions include letters, final notices, home visits and student and parent conferences. 

If students continue to miss school court intervention is the next step.


Communication is the Key to Excellent Attendance!

If attendance problems are unable to be resolved at the school or district level Bullitt County Public School staff access the court system to address the continued absence of students from school. 

Bullitt County Public School staff have developed great working relationships with Monica Robinson, the Bullitt County Attorney and her staff.  

The district personnel and the county attorney’s office are able to discuss interventions, options and opportunities to help families be successful and ensure children attend school. 

Court intervention for student absences is a last resort when no other intervention has been successful and Educational Neglect or Truancy is filed. 

Neglect and truancy cases are heard in Family Court.  Bullitt County Public Schools and the Bullitt County Attorney’s Office are exploring the impact of filing Unlawful Transaction with a Minor, in the third degree, for cases where court intervention has not seemed to make an impact on improving student attendance. 

In order to address student attendance issues Bullitt County Public School staff also work with Family Court, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), local attorneys appointed to represent the best interests of children, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The schools are preparing students to be College or Career Ready and attendance is a big piece of the puzzle.  Students that are absent run a higher risk of dropping out of school. Improved attendance is the result of communication and working together to ensure children, in Bullitt County, all the opportunities education provides.   

Community partners not only encourage good student attendance; but also, some partners provide incentives that students may access through the district Moving Forward Student Incentive Card Program.  Students receive the cards for attendance and academics and it allows them to access rewards from local businesses like Arby’s Restaurant in Shepherdsville, and Mount Washington, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, Cosmic Rocks in Jefferson Mall, Cybertek Games in Shepherdsville, Dance with Steve and Donna in Shepherdsville, Denny’s Classic Diner in Shepherdsville, Hester’s Family Fitness Recreation Center in Hillview, Kart Kountry in Shepherdsville, McDonald’s Restaurant in Shepherdsville, Mr. Gatti’s Restaurant in Shepherdsville, Rave Motion Pictures Preston Crossings 16, Skate-O-Rama in Bullitt County, Small Town Gallery in Brooks, Two Guys Printing in Shepherdsville, Waffle House Restaurant in Shepherdsville and 6 PM Outlet Store.  


Parents play big role

Parents are the key, the first step, the primary force in getting their children to school every day.  Some days it is a struggle but parents are preparing children for work and for life. 

Parents are helping children see the importance of school, planning time to discuss what happens at school, and working to ensure their children are prepared and ready for school each day. 

North Bullitt High School 2012 graduate Derek Schweinhart was honored at the June 2012, Bullitt County Board of Education meeting with a Certificate of Recognition, a $300 gift from First Federal Savings Bank and a gift from Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest for attaining 13 years of perfect school attendance. 

When asked how he accomplished such a milestone, Derek smiled and said, “I have a very stubborn mom!”

Some parents may not be aware that students missing school causes anxiety for their children.  Missed instruction and being behind on assignments are the result of absences. 

Children do not understand they need to get back to school as soon as possible and get caught up so they can relax and learn. 

Children tend to want to avoid the uneasiness and the work that is waiting for them and avoiding the return to school may prolong the time away from school and increase the work and anxiety the child experiences.  Parents need to understand children who miss school have a greater risk of dropping out of school.  Children that drop out of school are more likely to live in poverty, be the victim of a violent crime or end up incarcerated at some point in their lives. These are not things anyone wants for their children so parents need to make school a priority, take an active role at home and get involved in school so we can all work together toward ensuring their child’s success in school and beyond. 

Bullitt County Public Schools has nearly 13,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 850 and a classified staff of over 850 working every school day to make the district the leader in educational excellence.