Great article from School Services of California on maximizing attendance revenues through calendar development.

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Maximizing ADA Through Calendar Development—2017

Absenteeism costs districts and charter schools more than loss of average daily attendance (ADA)—students can’t learn when they are not in school. The average unified school district student misses 9.2 days of school per year (based on average attendance rates for unified school districts in 2015-16). Multiply that by the 13 years of school attendance (kindergarten through grade 12) and they have missed 119.6 days of school. This equates to a loss of 66% of a full school year in missed opportunities for learning. In this example (based on a school year of 180 days), a district or charter school will lose approximately $56 for each absence each day. Other funding based on ADA, such as federal funding or grants, will also be impacted. While school calendars must be in compliance with the required instructional minutes for each grade level (Education Code Section

[E.C.] 37202 for school districts and E.C. 47612.5 for charter schools), districts and charter schools have some control over absenteeism by arranging the school calendar to prevent some commonly missed school days.

Start by looking at monthly trends by school site:

  • Does ADA start to decline after the winter semester, or does it increase?
  • Does your district or charter school have a higher-than-normal absence rate when neighboring districts are out of school?
  • When staff development activities are scheduled that close school, do students miss the day following, the day before, or both?
  • When midweek holidays occur, is attendance low before or after the holiday?
  • Have you calculated the district’s or charter school’s cost of absenteeism and communicated this to the parents and teachers?
  • Do parents understand that excused absences do not generate ADA? Do your teachers?
  • Is absenteeism high among teachers? If teachers don’t show up, the students most likely will not either.

Then consider:

  • Utilizing the flexibility allowed in E.C. 37201 by including or excluding all or part of the winter recess to adjust the Second Principal Apportionment (P-2) cut-off date to end earlier if needed. If in a growth area, consider the advantage of a longer period to P-2. Backwards map from the desired date to the start of school.
  • Be in tune with the culture of your district/charter school. If there are religious or cultural holidays that are generally low attendance days, plan for districtwide/charterwide special events or staff development days on or around those days.
  • Look at other holidays for opportunities to schedule staff development (a Monday before a Tuesday holiday) or the day following Halloween.
  • Consider an extended winter recess if trends show low ADA the first week back.
  • Utilize short-term independent study (more than five days absence).
  • Utilize Saturday make-up school for truancy.
  • Actively participate in School Attendance Review Board programs.
  • Seek a waiver when there has been a material decrease in ADA due to inclement weather, flu epidemic, or other catastrophic event allowed through E.C. 46392.

For additional information, The School Attendance Improvement Handbook issued by the California Department of Education in 2000 can be found here.

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