Live Oak School District launches campaign to promote, increase regular attendance

09.04.2012 | Santa Cruz Sentinel | Jessica M. Pasko

LIVE OAK – The Live Oak School District has launched a new campaign aimed at ensuring students attend school regularly.

Frequent absences from school can have major academic and social impacts on students, and its important to stress the importance of regular attendance from an early age, district officials said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

The attendance campaign, “Every Day Counts,” will focus on reaching out to parents as well as speaking to the students directly. Plans include banners and flags, monthly incentives and targeted outreach to families. A letter about the campaign was also sent home to parents on the first day of school.

A major piece of the campaign, Superintendent Tamra Taylor said, will be working with parents to make sure they are aware of the impacts of persistent truancy and helping to provide a support system to ensure kids are coming to school regularly.

Tuesday’s meeting marked the first board meeting held since students returned to classes, and it gave the district’s principals a chance to briefly discuss how the first few days of the new school year have gone.

Highlights included a smooth start to the new transitional kindergarten program, implemented in accordance with state law, and the introduction of a recess before lunch program at Del Mar Elementary School. Principal Marilyn Rockey said that so far, holding recess before students eat lunch has proved to be successful.

Les Forster, principal at Cypress Charter High School, also introduced the board to Emoke Nadasi, a Hungarian teacher spending the year at the school through the Fulbright Teacher Exchange program.

Continuing the good news was the announcement that the district is seeing an increase in enrollment, which is promising for the budget.

“We’ve been fighting a downward slope in enrollment,” but this year the district has seen an increase of 49 students, bringing enrollment to 1,812, Taylor said. Budget projections for the district’s multiyear report were based on an estimated increase to 1,800 students. With district officials anticipating an additional 16 students enrolling in their Ocean Alternative Education Center, the home school program, by mid-September, that could mean a total increase in enrollment of 65 students. That would in turn mean a potential budget increase of $145,000, according to Taylor and Patty Deming, assistant superintendent of business services.

In other action Tuesday, the board voted in closed session to extend Taylor’s contract for another year. The veteran educator joined the district in 2009.

Among those in attendance at the meeting were Jeremy Ray and Phyllis Greenleaf who are vying, along with current board member Heather Rhodes, for two open four-year terms in November’s school board elections.

Sergio Martinez, who was appointed to the board in January in the wake of longtime trustee Barney Bricmont, has opted not to run for election.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 18.

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