School attendance is a worthwhile emphasis
Those who follow local news are likely aware that the Crook County School District is continually working to improve what its schools have to offer. Whether it is focusing on a single subject such as math or science, or emphasizing college readiness or certain trades that prepare kids for manufacturing jobs, the effort is seemingly steady.
However, the only way any of those efforts can reach their peak potential is if the students do their part and attend the classes. If they don't walk through the school doors, sit in the classes and commit to learning, those kids don't benefit, no matter how strong of school programs the district offers.
Thankfully, among the many emphases on education quality, school district leaders are making a pointed effort to improve attendance. The recently publicized "Show Up" program is focusing on increasing enrollment and improving the percentage of attendance for the students who are enrolled.
The enrollment piece is not an uncommon focus for school districts as it has a direct impact on the amount of money the state pays them. More students equals more money.
Attendance, on the other hand, does not impact the purse strings. Efforts to improve the percentage of daily students in the seats is rooted in caring enough for students to ensure they benefit from their education as much as possible. It is a noble effort.
What makes the focus all the more noteworthy is that Crook County School District is not exactly suffering in overall attendance. Yes, Pioneer Alternative High School has low attendance figures that district leaders hope to improve (24.1 percent regularly attending), but overall, the district's attendance rate is 81.9 percent, good enough for best in Central Oregon.
Stacy Smith, the district's curriculum and special programs director, said one thing they have yet to accomplish is making community residents aware of what the schools are trying to accomplish and getting them on board with the effort. He wants to create some positive peer pressure community-wide on improving attendance and ultimately creating a culture of academic excellence and a desire to be at school.
Hopefully, the message reaches the community. Much like drug and alcohol abuse prevention in youth, the more people who are committed to steering youth in the right direction, the greater the likelihood that kids will make the right decisions.
So kudos to the school district for taking the lead. Hopefully next year, with help from the community, the attendance numbers will climb again and more students will benefit.