The San Francisco Unified School District missed out on more than $100,000 in future funding Wednesday, as attendance numbers in the Mission District and other parts of the city plummeted because students skipped school to join the Giants for the team’s World Series celebration.
“They want their kids to go to the parade. It’s taken over the city,” Norma Gamino, the attendance secretary at John O’Connell High School, said Wednesday.
Administrators, she added, fought with parents all morning on Wednesday about pulling their children out.
The high school has an attendance rate of 598 students on a normal day, but approximately half were absent on the day of the parade.
San Francisco Unified School District receives $37.75 per student per day from the state this year. Every day a child is absent from school, the district effectively loses out on that money.
Average year-to-date attendance for schools in the district hover around 96 to 97 percent of total student enrollment. District-wide on Wednesday, there were 3,222 more students absent than usual. That totals a potential loss of $121,630 in next year’s funding.
The state uses average daily attendance numbers, rather than total enrollment, to determine future funding. The logic is that funding is based on how many students schools need to educate. Normal attendance fluctuates, but when it takes big drops, the impact will be felt in funding the next year.
With half of John O’Connell’s students gone, the school contributed more than $11,000 to the district’s total loss.
“With parents, we hope we’re on the same page,” said another John O’Connell administrator, talking about the need for families to make attendance a priority for students. “But it’s a struggle. Parents will lie, making excuses it’s just personal.”
Despite years of decline, daily attendance averages have leveled out in San Francisco, according to the school district. But with the large state deficits, including what is expected to be upwards of $12 billion for the next budget, the amount of money school districts receive has dropped significantly in recent years.
The $37.75 the district receives this year is a 10 percent drop from its 2009-2010 allocation, according to Gentle Blythe, San Francisco Unified’s public outreach and communications director.
Not all Mission schools were hit with significant drops. Educators at Cesar Chavez Elementary and Bryant Elementary School felt they didn’t see much difference in attendance. “We had one parent brave enough to say we’re taking our child out for the parade,” a Bryant Elementary administrator said Wednesday morning.
Other, smaller schools were not as lucky. Horace Mann Middle School had nearly one third of its student body out, Edison Charter Academy had 30 students absent and June Jordan School for Equity in the Excelsior District had 34 students absent. On a normal day, only two to three children are no-shows at June Jordan.
Mission High School, which has a normal attendance of 875, had 100 kids absent. That number is approximately 50 percent more than its average tally.
Gamino said that some parents at John O’Connell called because they thought changes in public transportation service or large crowds would prevent them from getting children to school. Many, however, admitted bluntly that they wanted to take their families to see the parade.