- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - A new attendance rule will cost Lee County School District about $300,000 in state funding this year, said Superintendent Jimmy Weeks.

A district’s average daily attendance is used in the formula that determines how much money it receives from the state the following year.

Under the new rule from the state auditor’s office, a student must be present for 63 percent of his or her academic day to count as having been in school. Previously, students counted if they were present at any time during the school day.

It will not force the district to lay off any teachers, he said, but it will result in five vacated positions not being filled. That includes four classroom teachers and one academic coach.

“It hit us hard,” Weeks told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1lJDjvv ).

The rule has an impact, Weeks said, with students who had to check out early for doctors’ appointments. It also made exam exemptions costly. Both, under the new rule, are counted as absences.

The state funding formula places emphasis on attendance during October and November. For those two months, the district had about 120 more absences than it did during the previous year. That will result in a reduction of about $300,000 in funding, Weeks said.

The 7,200-student district tried hard to stress attendance last year, Weeks said, and will continue those efforts next year.

“We have got to find a way to make parents understand the importance of a kid being there for 63 percent of the instructional day,” Week said. “When you have a kid that needs to go to an orthodontist appointment at 9 and that is the only time that is open for about a month, what do you do?”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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