Chronic absences a growing concern in Park City schools

Park City School District has created a committee to look at the growing concern of chronic absences. Chronic absenteeism is defined as a measure of how many students miss a defined number of school days (often around 15 or more days) for any reason.

The committee, which will meet monthly until May, consists of Superintendent Ember Conley, district administrators, principals, counselors, teachers, parents, Latino outreach specialists, and community partners.

During its first meeting last week, the committee was presented data by Caitlin O’Connor, the district’s statistician. About 2 percent of the district’s students have severe chronic absences (miss 20 percent or more of school days). Some 10 percent of students have moderate chronic absences (miss 10-19 percent of school days).

In 2017, the students who missed the most school included minorities, ELL students, and economically disadvantaged students.

The leadership at Park City Learning Academy is extremely happy to see a committee studying this issue. “We strive to help students get on a meaningful path toward college and/or career and have the opportunity to mentor individuals, provide project-based learning and meet students at their level with personalized learning,” said Principal Tracy Sjostrom who is a member of the committee. “Students need strong cognitive skills to thrive in today’s world. If they are not at school, we can’t guide them to reach their full potential. I am grateful for various stakeholders coming together to put an evidence based attendance plan in place. With 30-50 percent of PCLA students missing one or more periods a day, it is dire that we do what it takes to decrease chronic absenteeism.”

 At the national level, more than 7 million students are missing so many days of school that they are academically at risk. Chronic absences can translate into third-graders unable to master reading, sixth-graders failing subjects and ninth-graders dropping out of high school.

The PCSD committee’s goal is to reduce the number of unexcused absences by at least 50 percent. It will also ensure consistency between all schools by upholding Utah Administrative Code and following the PCSD Attendance Policy. 

PCSD closing all schools to open enrollment for 2018-19

The Park City School District Board of Education voted Nov. 21 to close all its schools to open enrollment for the 2018-19 school year. No new out-of-district students will be accepted next year. The board made the decision to maintain program offerings while holding class sizes to manageable levels.

Out-of-district students who are currently attending PCSD schools will be allowed to remain within the school system, but if they are moving from one school to another in 2018-19, they will need to submit an open enrollment application.

PCSD employees will continue to be allowed to register their children in PCSD schools.

The district currently has 168 out-of-district students attending its schools, 33 of which are children of employees.

 

Breakfast served at all PCSD schools

The Child Nutrition Services Department wants to remind parents that breakfast is served in all schools within Park City School District.

The School Breakfast Program is a national program that provides millions of children a nutritious morning meal each school day. School breakfast is a critical support for struggling families trying to stretch limited resources and provides children a significant portion of the nutrition they need to learn and be healthy, according to the Food Research Action Center.

“Kick off your child’s day on a positive note, start with a healthy breakfast that includes fresh fruits and whole grains,” said PCSD Director of Child Nutrition R.J. Owen.

For a nominal fee, students can eat breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts. Cost is $1.20 at elementary schools, $1.35 at Ecker Hill Middle, $1.45 at Treasure Mountain Junior High, $1.50 at Park City High, and reduced breakfasts are $.30.