Phone Calls Help Clovis Unified's Attendance

February 4, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
One Valley school district plans to use technology to make sure students are in class every day. Officials say that could mean more money for the district. Clovis Unified has a 96-percent attendance rate, but school officials believe they can increase that number by calling parents of high school, middle school and now elementary school students the same day they are late or absent from class.

In a busy classroom at Fugman Elementary in North East Fresno kids say they enjoy coming to school.

"I like math and language," said student Taleen Cochran.

But second grader Taleen Cochran says when she's sick and has to stay home it's hard to catch up with the rest of the class. "The next day you have all this work on your desk and you don't really know what to do with it."

Instructional time is one reason Clovis Unified School District recently launched a fully automated calling system. Soon parents will quickly receive this message if students are not in class at the start of the day.

Kelly Avants with Clovis Unified says the district faces $28-million dollars in budget cuts next school year. If automated calls can get more students back in class she says it could mean more money from the state. "To get everyone of our 38 thousand students in class once more this year that would equate to additional revenue for out district about 1.3 million dollars."

Educators say the number one reason kids miss school is illness. However they say the most avoidable absence is when parents plan vacation during school time or an extended three day weekend.

Fugman Principal Sharon Uyeno says the new calling system is also about safety. "When a student is absent we want to know where they are. The system will allow us to know if they are home safely, ill, or if they're supposed to be here at school."

She says so far parents appreciate the courtesy call. Educators hope all parents will be motivated to make getting kids to school a top priority.

The automated system has been launched at five schools in the district. Once testing is complete it will be expanded to all Clovis Unified schools.


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