May 3, 2012

Attendance focus of Education Forums

Attendance focus of Education Forums
By Jerry W. Kram

Students can’t learn if they aren’t in class.
That was the message Parshall School Superintendent John Weidner had for the community at a recent parent input meeting at the school. It’s also a message that Damon Brady, education coordinator for the MHA Nation, hopes families across Fort Berthold will take to heart as the tribe holds a series of forums on improving educational outcomes in the six segments of the reservations.
“We do have an attendance problem,” Weidner said. “The frustration we have here in Parshall is the same we have in all the communities. We all have the same frustration that getting kids to school is a priority that’s pretty far down the scale.”
Weidner said that he faced similar challenges in schools in Iowa and Nebraska, so the problem isn’t isolated to reservation schools. But the impact on Parshall is dramatic. To start with, he said, the school loses state aid when a child is absent. Last year absenteeism cost the Parshall School District $45,000.
“That’s the price of one teacher,” Wiedner said.

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