Berkeley Schools Invest in Attendance—and It Works

Brings in extra $1M in funding
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 29, 2012 6:24 PM CDT
Berkeley schools spent on administrators rather than teachers.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Berkeley schools' superintendent had enough cash in hand to hire three new teachers a year ago—but he chose to take a risk. Bill Huyett opted to spend $250,000 on new administrative staff dedicated to making sure kids showed up at school. Looks like it worked: After nine months, 150 more students are attending each day, on average, bringing in some $1 million in extra funding, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In March, the school warned 148 teachers of layoffs; now, their jobs are secure.

One student's absence means a loss of $35 per day in funding for the district, and attendance "is one of the primary indicators of school success," says a principal. Attendance climbed from 93.6% to 95.3% across the district as administrators kept a closer eye on things, checking in with parents whose kids were often absent and pushing families to make an extra effort to get kids to class—by not taking vacations outside of school breaks, for instance. "What's remarkable to me is that school districts didn't figure this out earlier. It's about academic outcomes, but money speaks," says an attendance advocate. (Read more attendance stories.)

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