The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

September 14, 2013

Covington schools consider adopting attendance initiative

BY ROSE SCHMITT newsroom@dancomnews.com
The Commercial-News

---- — COVINGTON, Ind. — Covington School Board members learned more Monday about the Fountain County Attendance Initiative.

Adam Welchans, High school principal, said the idea for an attendance mediation board has been in the works for about a year. The initiative will partner the local school corporations — Covington, Attica and Fountain Central — together with the Fountain County Circuit Court in an effort to get frequently absent students to school regularly.

“It will be a work in progress”, said Welchans, who has already seen the benefits of a similar program already in place in Tippecanoe County.

Stephanie Campbell, magistrate of the Fountain County small claims circuit court, explained the local school corporations have no real truancy policy so a student with a poor attendance record can leave one school corporation and go to another with a clean attendance record at the new school.

School corporations in the initiative each will have a representative on the mediation board. Campbell will serve as mediator for the board and will sit down with students and their parents to figure out why they are regularly absent and to inform them of the benefits of coming to and staying in school. After the problem has been resolved, students and their parents will enter into a contract with the attendance initiative for a semester. If the student continues to miss school during their contract, then their case will be given over to the court system.

Campbell said the Attendance Initiative will be a “collective effort and will be a positive thing for everyone.”

Welchans added the hope is that the program will break the cycle in some families of kids not coming to school. Superintendent Kirk Booe said that “97 percent of the student population attends school regularly and it is really a small percentage of students that are habitual truants.”

The program should be ready for implementation next semester if the three school corporations involved all approve it as amendments to their respective attendance policies. The Covington school aboard agreed to table a motion on the initiative so that they can discuss it further. The board will vote upon the initiative at the next regular school board meeting on Monday, October 14th.

In other business, school board members:

Conducted a public hearing of the proposed 2014 budget. There was no public comment so the budget adoption is set for 6:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 14.

Welcomed new teachers to the corporation including Jennifer Doggett, a first-grade teacher; Evan Willis, a first-grade teacher; Katie Tolley, a fourth-grade teacher; Maureen McCarty, elementary art teacher; Amy Streuer, special needs teacher; Jessica Fields, a special needs teacher; Jordan Gerbsch, high school English teacher; Melissa Henderson, a special needs teacher; Amber Otter, a special needs teacher; and Joey Holt, middle school history teacher.

Heard from Booe that the count day for average daily membership (ADM) is this Friday. Booe said that students have still been coming and going the last couple of weeks, but he expects the ADM to be close to 890.

Learned from Booe that ISTEP results are now available to parents, but not yet to the public. Letters were sent home with students on how parents can log into the state’s ISTEP website to see their student’s results. If the letter was lost or further help is needed with the website, parents can call the school for assistance.