Student Well-Being

Parents on Notice: Absence Is Costly

April 03, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Parents in one California district now experience a tug on their consciences—and their wallets—when considering whether to pull their children out of class for family vacations.

Fed up with the loss of state aid because of absent children, schools in the 2,800-student Scotts Valley Unified School District, near Santa Cruz, have begun asking parents for donations to compensate the district in the case of voluntary absences.

The program started in January in an effort to raise money in a district where a 5 percent drop in enrollment has resulted in decreased funding from the state. According to a letter to parents, the district lost $223,500 in state aid last year because of absences, excluding sick days. That amounted to about 1 percent of its $18.6 million K-12 budget.

The letter, titled “If You Play, Please Pay” and sent home with every child, asked parents to consider making a donation of $36.13 per day of absence to the newly created Elective Absence Fund. The money will be added to the general district fund to cover costs such as teacher salaries and facility maintenance.

The district has received more than $2,000 in donations since the letter went out.

Parents’ reactions have been “overwhelmingly positive,” said Brenda Spalding, an assistant to Superintendent Susan Silver. Parents understand that the notice was not a bill, and that the district will not follow up with them if they choose not to pay, she said.

Stephanie Espinola, a parent at Brook Knoll Elementary School, said she feels no pressure. “If asking me to pay to take my child out for a vacation helps our schools, I am OK with doing so,” she said.

Under California’s school funding formula, each district receives state aid based on its average daily attendance. While some other states, including Idaho and Kentucky, use similar methods to determine aid—in some cases requiring that attendance be taken twice a day—most base funding on monthly averages or enrollment taken at certain intervals, which does not emphasize student attendance as heavily, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ education finance database.

So far, Scotts Valley, located 30 miles south of Silicon Valley, is the only California district to send such an appeal to parents, but Ms. Spalding said other districts have expressed interest.

See Also

See other stories on education issues in California. See data on California’s public school system.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2007 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being What the Research Says How Teacher Stress Management Is Crucial for Handling Student Mental Health
A Chicago program helps teachers learn how to manage their own stress in classes with more easily triggered students.
4 min read
Notes from students expressing support and sharing coping strategies paper a wall, as members of the Miami Arts Studio mental health club raise awareness on World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, 2023, at Miami Arts Studio, a public 6th-12th grade magnet school, in Miami.
Notes from students express support and share coping strategies at Miami Arts Studio, a public magnet school for grades 6-12, on Oct. 10, 2023. Studies find teachers need training to navigate their own stress while managing classes with high-need students.
Rebecca Blackwell/AP
Student Well-Being By Some Measures, Students' Well-Being Has Been Stable for a Decade, Study Shows
A Stanford report examined high school students’ well-being, sense of belonging, and engagement over more than a decade.
5 min read
Tired schoolboy fell asleep on a class at elementary school.
Student Well-Being Opinion What Should Students Do Over the Summer?
Educators share tips for keeping kids off their screens and mentally engaged over the long break.
3 min read
Young girl reads a book with cat in the garden. Summer holidays illustration.
Student Well-Being Opinion What's Behind the Explosion in Student Absenteeism?
Kids aren’t returning to school after COVID. What are the implications for policy and practice?
8 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty