SIKESTON -- Sikeston R-6's truancy court has proved so successful, it has extended the program to target students who are repeatedly late for school.
Bill Lawson, chief juvenile officer for Scott and Mississippi counties, provided the board of education with the annual report for the district's truancy court during Tuesday's regular meeting.
Last year 260 sessions of truancy court, which is in its fourth year, were conducted with children and a judge, Lawson said. Sessions are held at 7 a.m. every Wednesday at the Board of Education office.
"We believe the kids we continue to have in the program are continuing to be helped by the program," Lawson said.
Students are supposed to be in school every day, Lawson said. They're supposed to get there on time, and they're supposed to study and behave, he said.
"Those are things we focus on," Lawson said. "If you're not getting there, we're going to get you there. And some kids are harder to get there than others."
In many cases, it's not the children's fault they aren't getting to school, it's their parents, Lawson said. However, students, especially the older ones, are encouraged to take responsibility themselves to get to school.
Children are identified as problem attendance students beginning in kindergarten, Lawson said. Going to school is a habit, and parents are also encouraged to become partners with the schools, he said.
"If there's a problem, we're trying to solve it for them and find a way to help them work through their issues. And in lot of cases, we have talked to a neighbor or family member to get the job done," Lawson said.
During the 2005-2006 school year, 30 of the 80 students in the program were new. Average attendance before the program was around 81 percent; average attendance after the program was 90 percent.
"We believe the program is going to level off about where we are now," Lawson said.
The district received a net gain of $12,100 due to improved attendance last school year. Over the past four years, the district gained over $62,000 it otherwise would have lost if students weren't attending school.
"We are going to start working on morning tardies -- those students, who for whatever reason, can't get to school on time," superintendent Steve Borgsmiller said.
Some some parents and students have been notified already that should the student get three unexcused absences or tardies, they are already in the jurisdiction of the court. These students were identified over the summer, he said.
Punctuality is very important in the work force, Lawson noted.
"Anybody who works in any type of organization understands it'
s not only about the individual but the effect on the entire organization when that happens. There's an awful lot of staff time spent on tardied kids. Punctuality is something that can be taught and should happen," Lawson said.
Also on Tuesday, the board agreed to stay in the lawsuit which challenges the state's funding formula on the argument it's inequitable and inadequate. The district renewed its membership with the Committee for Educational Equality as the board members approved the 2006-2007 fee of $3,704.09 with the group.
The board awarded the bus bid for 2007-2008 school year to Ponder Equipment Co. Inc. for $69,425 per bus to be delivered in July 2007. District transportation director Randy Thompson pointed out generally bus bids are awarded in February. But because EPA will require any buses purchased after Jan. 1, 2007, to meet a new emission regulation, Thompson recommended the district approve a bid for next year's buses now; this act would allow the district to save $10,000 to $12,000.
The bid to perform fine grading and seeding work at the math and science center was awarded to Garden Lane Nursery for $3,000. The board also granted a 15-foot right-of-way easement to the Sikeston Board of Municipal Utilities to allow access to a transformer at the math and science center. Borgsmiller briefed the board on the construction of the math and science center.
"It's coming together quite rapidly," Borgsmiller said. Wall boarding is up; mudding and taping has started in the building's labs, Borgsmiller said. The ceiling is in place and workers are putting tiles in place in the restrooms.
Borgsmiller told the board: "The community's going to be proud of the building you have authorized."