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One California school district volunteered for a six-week program that tracks students with unexcused absences using GPS devices

While riding on a parade float singing "Twist and Shout" sounds like a better time than going to school, students might want to rethink their plans for a Ferris Bueller-like rendezvous now that a California school district is using GPS units to track students with a poor attendance history. 

The Anaheim Union High School District has volunteered to be apart of a six-week program, which aims to reduce the number of unexcused absences by equipping seventh and eighth grade students who have a poor attendance record with handheld GPS devices. Reducing the number of absences a student has saves the school district money. Every time a student misses class, the school loses $35.

The program works by assigning GPS units to students with more than three unexcused absences. After receiving the GPS device, students are sent an automated phone call every school day to remind them to get up and go to school. They must enter a code five times a day in order to activate the device and track their location. They must enter the code on their way to school, once they arrive, during lunch, on their way home from school and at 8 p.m. In addition, a coach is assigned to each student in order to make sure that they are where they're supposed to be doing what they're supposed to do. 

"This is their last chance at an intervention," said Kristen Levitin, principal at Dale Junior High in West Anaheim. "Anything that can help these kids get to class is a good thing."

The district has 75 students participating in the program. Those participating are able to avoid other consequences that the school may have otherwise administered had the students' not volunteered. After the six-week program is over, district officials will make the decision to either expand the program to other high schools and junior highs or dismiss it. 

Some parents are having a hard time accepting the program rules, saying that it seems a bit harsh.

"I feel like they come at us too hard, and making kids carry around something that tracks them seems extreme," said Raphael Garcia, who has a sixth grade student in the district with six unexcused absences. 

The GPS units cost $300-$400 each, and parents must replace them if they are lost or broken. The total cost of the program is about $18,000, which is funded by a state grant. 



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RE: It is about money
By omnicronx on 2/22/2011 10:41:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Reducing the number of absences a student has saves the school district money. Every time a student misses class, the school loses $35."

They care more about money than they care about students.
Seems like the entire point of your post was just to rant about something that is completely off topic.

Just assume a kid skips an entire day of 5 classes, thats $175 that could have been put back into the school system.

Multiply that by how many students skip each day and you can see how this could easily impact EVERY student. So to say this is not about the kids makes me laugh as it surely is. You can't have a good learning environment without proper funding period, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

If there is anything to complain about it is the system itself. Poor areas with low attendance in cash strapped areas are being punished the point where there schools are crap and learning is nearly impossible. How exactly can you dig yourself out of a hole when the learning environment continues to degrade as a result of a lack of funding?

And you wonder why inter city schools struggle in the way they do..


RE: It is about money
By joex444 on 2/22/2011 10:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
I would really love to know how they figure it costs $35 to *not* teach someone.

It can't be an expense -- teachers, administration, bus drivers, janitors and cafe workers are all on salary or at least hourly and wouldn't pick up any hours now that little Johnny isn't there today. Furthermore, it doesn't cost more in utilities or in diesel (if anything, this is slightly reduced, on the order of cents).

So... it would seem to me that what they mean is that
a) There is some kind of subsidy based on attendance. This is silly in principle alone.
b) The total cost is constant but divided up by fewer students so the marginal cost is higher. This is simply poorly phrased and being an attention whore. They actually don't lose any money.


RE: It is about money
By bah12 on 2/22/2011 11:52:14 AM , Rating: 2
It is A on your list. This is a real $35 of state funding lost. It is a flawed system maybe, but how would you suggest we change it?

State has $X of budget for 2011. If you spit it by anything other than attendance you run the risk of harming poorer areas. Say you give more to "smarter" schools, or maybe take the give it to "dumber" schools because they need it more (then the "smarter" schools lose incentive to be good).

Attendance is the fair way. Of that $X total your district gets $Y per student per day. Why should another district loose funding because you want a fixed amount and have a high percentage of students not show up?

As a tax payer I want to fund the kids that come to school, if you don't come you should not get my money.


RE: It is about money
By HrilL on 2/22/2011 2:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
From what I have heard from School administrators and teachers is that they get so much money for each student that attends class each day. They too used the $35 per student loss if they miss a class. The state gives each school money based on the students attendance records. So having everyone go to class allows the school to have more money for educating the children.


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