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Local school districts deal with attendance issues

Posted at 6:46 PM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 21:46:48-04

Student attendance -- or a lack thereof -- a problem in many local school districts. According to some educators, attendance rates are below where they should be.

Today, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and a group of local school superintendents, educators, and law enforcement kicked off "Attendance Awareness Month," outside of Tucson High School. There, they addressed the main concern of the many districts: truancy problems. People also spoke about the many ways to combat the problems -- one of them starting with parents.

"We just can't say enough to our parents. At the elementary age, build those good habits early," Tucson Unified School District Superintendent Dr. H.T. Sanchez said.
Because of some of these issues, the Amphi School District has created a new mantra, according to Associate Superintendent of School Operations Monica Nelson.
"The mantra that we've adopted in Amphi that we think is critical to our future success, is, every day matters," she said. 
Sunnyside School District Superintendent Steve Holmes agreed that parents need to encourage their kids to understand the importance of showing up -- but he also believes there is a weight on schools to continue to find more ways to engage their students with other school endeavors. Those include taking elective courses, joining a school club, an athletic team, and so forth.
"Music programs, fine arts, our athletic programs...really attract students to schools," he said. "Which eventually leads to higher academics, because participation in these activities requires good grades as well."
In 2015, TUSD had an average attendance rate of around 87% across it's schools and a dropout rate of just under 2%, according to district officials. As for Sunnyside, around a 90% attendance rate. However, the Arizona Department of Education shows that district having a dropout rate near 5%.
The Sunnyside superintendent has a certain threshold for how many classes a student can miss in a year -- and a goal for the school to aim for.
"If a student is absent more than 10 days throughout a year, it's a problem," he said. "And so, we're still looking at 95% being the lowest threshold for any student's attendance."