Reporting Ian Schwartz
SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Parents are letting their students stay home and it’s costing the Sacramento City Unified School District millions of dollars.
At Leataata Floyd Elementary School, nearly a quarter of the students miss at least 18 days a year, and a new report says parents are a big part of the problem.
Parents have heard every excuse in the book when their child wants to miss school, but the school district is suffering from too many excused absences called in by parents.
“It’s a cycle we are trying to put a wedge in,” school district employee Barbara Kronick said.
She led a study that looked at absences in 2011 and found 10 percent of students missed at least 18 days a year. That percentage was even higher for low income students.
“The data does show that being absent that number of days is very significant,” said Kronick.
Schools with the highest numbers of empty seats were the Success Academy Alternative School, Will C. Wood Middle School and Hiram Johnson High School — all are in lower income neighborhoods.
“Kids has to stay in school because I am working and this is the job for the kids,” mom Nancy Zamora said.
Zamora knows her kids need to be in school to learn, but she didn’t know absences cost the district $4 million dollars in one year, enough to pay more than 50 teachers’ salaries.
The reason the cost is so high is because schools get state money based on how many kids show up each day.
“That’s a lot,” mom Gwen Randall said. “I didn’t even realize that, ’cause they need the teachers.”
Not only does low attendance beat up the school budget, the district says it can bring down the rest of the students trying to learn.
“Then you are playing catch up. The teacher may have to play catch up with that student and that may take away from progressing with all the other students as well,” said Kronick.
The district is focusing on changing the highest offenders, and will reexamine the data next year to see if any change occurred.