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Message from the Superintendent

September 4, 2019 -- During Meet the Teacher night at the beginning of the school year, my son’s teacher said something that resonated with me. In speaking about attendance, she remarked that it is important for every child to be at school, and on time, every day. That is great advice. It reminded me of the end-of-year recognitions in my elementary school when students received certificates for perfect attendance. I even had a classmate that had perfect attendance from first grade to graduation. That is amazing! 

One of the most commonly desired characteristics for employers is that their employees come to work every day. This priority of attendance is for good reason: absenteeism in the workplace verges on an epidemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, absenteeism costs the nation’s employers more than $225 billion in productivity. 

Absenteeism rates in schools are equally dramatic. It is estimated nationally that 5-7 million K-12 students miss at least 10% of days in school, which is defined as chronically absent. Last year in Vestavia Hills, that equaled about 570 children.

There are many legitimate reasons why people miss work and school. Health-related challenges, important family events, and religious observances are just a few. While perfect attendance is impractical in many cases, the value of being consistently present whenever possible cannot be underestimated. 

One goal of our strategic plan is “developing common understandings and shared community support for confronting the problems and challenges that impact the system, youth, and families.” An important piece of the picture of success with this goal is that we value students being present in school. Accordingly, our system policy has been updated this year to encourage attendance. You can find it, and our goals, on our website.

As an educator of 26 years, I can attest to the value of consistent attendance. It is an important life lesson we learn as early as kindergarten that begins a good habit for the rest of our lives.