Student attendance through the Waxahachie ISD is the lowest in years.
Supervisor Jerry Hollingsworth understands why this is happening, but said it remains a concern.
During a WISD Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Hollingsworth shared data to show area enrollment numbers, average attendance, and average daily attendance (ADA).
Hollingsworth said the district’s attendance rate through the end of October was 94.4 percent. This is the lowest level in at least the last four years and is down from 94.7 in the 2020-21 school year.
“This is not where we want to be,” Hollingsworth said.
He cited the 2019-20 academic year as WISD’s attendance rate of nearly 97 percent.
“It would be more than 96 percent as a good area,” Hollingsworth said after the meeting. “And we would like some universities to reach 98 percent. It wouldn’t be unusual to see us at this level.”
However, WISD improved its ADA from 9,040.62 in September to 9,364.74 in October.
Hollingsworth said the overall drop in attendance is worrisome primarily because of its impact on education.
“When you’re not in school, it’s hard to teach students,” Hollingsworth said.
There is also the financial impact. The state links the amount of funding school districts receive from the ADA.
For the 2020-21 academic year, for example, WISD ADA had a weighted 12,535,981 students and received $41,563,429 for those students, which is $3,315.53 in funding per student.
But that’s not why we’re cheering her on, Hollingsworth said. “(Low attendance) affects our ability to develop students academically.”
Hollingsworth said he understands the low attendance rate.
“There is still a residual effect from COVID-19,” Hollingsworth said. “We have had COVID this year. So if a child has symptoms, it is a good idea that the parents do not send him to school. This is positive because it means that parents are sticking to our advice to keep them at home if they feel sick. But on the flip side, there may be some cases that He still goes to school if little Jerry has a cold. In some cases now parents choose not to send them to school.”
So what is the district doing to encourage higher attendance? This year, nothing.
Hollingsworth has said in recent years that WISD will use incentives such as perfect attendance awards, pizza parties for the class with the highest attendance, etc. to encourage high attendance rates.
“But we’re not currently doing that because of COVID,” Hollingsworth said. “It’s a balancing act that we’re going for because we don’t want to motivate parents to send their children who might be sick to school.”
Despite the low attendance rate, Hollingsworth said the WISD rate is higher than in most surrounding areas.
“This is not unique to Waxahachie ISD,” Hollingsworth said. “This is happening all over the state and the nation.”