San Francisco school district's effort to keep truancy officials pays off 

When students stay in school, they receive an education. But their school district also receives more money from the state.

It’s no surprise, then, that San Francisco Unified School District officials are making a special effort to employ the people who help keep attendance up.

The district earns roughly $5,200 from the state for each of its 55,000 students. The exact amount a district receives is determined by a complex formula that takes into account the number of students enrolled versus the number who attend on a daily basis. Thus, the more a student is in school, the more the district is paid.

Attendance and welfare liaisons are tasked with helping schools keep children in their seats. They are the link between parents, community members and teachers. These employees work with parent liaisons at each school site to ensure attendance and parent participation.

Attendance liaisons also closely monitor truant students’ attendance and make visits to troubled students’ homes.

Three years ago, the SFUSD began cracking down on truant students to encourage kids to attend school while also increasing pupil funding from the state. The district teamed with the District Attorney’s Office to hold parents responsible for their part in getting kids to class — even bringing charges against parents of chronically truant students.

But because San Francisco schools are facing a $19.2 million budget deficit, district officials decided to cut seven of the 12 liaison positions that were funded in the 2010-11 school year.

Parents and teachers then petitioned the Board of Education to keep the parent and attendance liaisons around, saying they play an important part in schools and surrounding communities.

SFUSD officials agreed liaisons do an important job and promised to do what they could to keep the positions employed because they will help the district in the future.

“We need to have a serious discussion about keeping these individuals in investing in attendance strategies,” Deputy Superintendent Myong Leigh told the school board at a June budget hearing. “The data is encouraging; it shows improving rates of attendance and reducing chronic absence.”

Because of the campaign, nine of the positions will now be funded in the coming school year.

Going to class

55,000 Students in SFUSD

Nearly 5,000 Students who skip school each day in The City

6 Days a student must miss to be considered chronically truant

10 Days a student must miss to be considered habitually truant

$5,200 Amount district receives annually per student in state funding ($29.55 a day)

Sources: SFUSD, Truancy Assessment Resource Center

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