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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco's poor school attendance by the numbers



Pasco County school leaders began looking past teachers to parent and student responsibility for classroom performance during a workshop Tuesday. One key factor: attendance.

"We can't teach these kids if they aren't in school to learn," School Board vice chairman Allen Altman said bluntly.

Altman has been on a mission to make sure that students are in their seats for classes, and to get the most disruptive students to either behave or get out of the way. The workshop was designed to look at what the schools are doing now, and to explore next steps. Getting parents to make sure their kids get up and make it to school daily was a key concern that emerged.

"Attendance is an issue," assistant superintendent Ruth Reilly acknowledged.

Just how bad? Check out some of these 2010-11 numbers that caught board members' eyes:

37.6 percent of Hudson High sophomores missed 20 or more days of school

71.7 percent of Gulf Middle students missed more than 10 days of school

59.4 percent of elementary students in the Ridgewood High feeder pattern missed more than 10 days of school

Of course, not all schools had problems. Seven Springs Middle School, for instance, had just 11.6 percent of students missing more than 10 days. Just 3.1 percent of Land O'Lakes High freshmen and 4.5 percent of sophomores missed 20 or more days of school.

Board members and administrators pointed their fingers at home routines as a culprit, but rather than assessing blame, they talked about how they might help children and families make changes.

"I like the idea of empowering the kids themselves to break the cycle," board member Alison Crumbley said.

The district will be working on improving attendance all this year. Any ideas of things they might try? 

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 6:38am]


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