Absentee rates at some area schools alarming

Too many area school children are missing school.

That’s the take-away from the most recent statistics revealed by the Keystone Central School District superintendent at last week’s school board meeting.

Indeed, the attendance rate at six out of Keystone Central’s 10 schools falls below the state average of 85.4 percent.

Central Mountain High School (enrollment 1,089) has the lowest attendance percentage at 57 percent.

Next is Bucktail Area High School (enrollment 136) at 65 percent. Then comes Bucktail Middle School (enrollment 95) at 75 percent; Renovo Elementary (enrollment 184) at 81 percent; Central Mountain Middle School (enrollment 815) at 80 percent, and Dickey Elementary (enrollment 249) at 81 percent.

The best school for attendance is Robb Elementary (enrollment 393) at 94 percent.

Folks, these attendance rates are alarming.

“It’s an issue and we’re working on it and we want to work with families,” Superintendent Jacquelyn Martin told The Express. “It is an issue in some schools more than others. I think what is important is that we need to make the community aware of some things we need to address.”

We appreciate that Ms. Martin is coming in as the new superintendent and identifying various challenges and then publicizing them at meetings, through presentations and other communication.

Truancy is an issue at Keystone Central, and “children attending school is the law,” Ms. Martin reminded.

She said the school board will look at the district’s attendance policy and may make changes.

In that light, we believe that such low attendance merits a strict look at attendance policy and perhaps really needs to needs to be tougher — to make students and parents more accountable.

That said, what a shame that the district must work to keep parents accountable for their kids’ absences. We can imagine with these low rates how difficult (and constant) communicating with parents can be.

Why do the secondary schools have the highest absentee rates? Are more parents giving too much leeway to their teens? Some teens certainly know how to manipulate their parents.

Low attendance rates cause all kinds of issues. Did you know that 7 million (1 in 7) U.S. students miss nearly a month of school each year. Poor attendance can influence whether children read proficiently by the end of third grade or be held back.

Parents, do your job and get your kids to school.