February 13, 2014

School ponders attendance problems

By Jerry W. Kram

The Parshall School Board pondered ways that the district could curb absenteeism by students.

The discussion was sparked by Parshall High School Principal Mark Grueneich’s regular report. Grueneich presented a table that showed the students who had missed 12 or more days of school had scores that were more than a full letter grade lower than students who missed two days or less. The 22 students who missed few classes had a grade point average of 2.73, which is very close to being an honor roll student. The 27 students with many absences had a grade point average of 1.38, which is a D.

Not only do repeated absences hurt student performance but it also cost the district money. State aid is calculated on the number of hours students spend in the classroom. If the students are absent, the school district gets less money. Grueneich said most schools in North Dakota have attendence rates of 97 percent or better. So far this year, Parshall’s attendance rate is 95 percent and the eighth grade class has an attendance rate of just 89 percent.

Board members discussed several ways they thought attendance could be improved. Stacey Roberts said that he felt a fitness center on school grounds would make attending school more attractive. Board Chair Carol Zacher agreed, but though that getting exercise equipment that could be used in the current gym would be a better and more economical idea than building a new facility.

Michelle Billadeau wondered why participation in music programs has dropped to almost nothing. Music has been shown to encourage a number of good habits in student, Billadeau said, including attendance. Grueniech said it is an unforeseen effect of North Dakota’s scholarship program.



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