At the school board meeting Tuesday, Oct. 21, Slater Superintendent of Schools John McEachern introduced the possibility of "Saturday School," to help students whose repeated, unexcused absences are putting their education at risk.
McEachern said a Saturday program has been successfully implemented elsewhere and that it often serves as a deterrent to absences.
"Our attendance has never been the best," he said, "but our goal is 95 percent."
There are some exceptions to the law, but attendance is generally required for every Missouri child between the ages of 7 and 16, and the burden of compliance is squarely on the shoulders of parents and/or guardians. Enforcement is the job of the school board.
McEachern said he will meet with Slater Mayor Stephen Allegri and Assistant City Administrator Gene Griffith on Thursday, Oct. 23, to discuss the possibility of a city truancy ordinance.
McEachern said Wednesday, Oct. 22, that he doesn't think there is an existing truancy ordinance in Slater, but believes that improving school attendance would help the entire community.
In other business, the board approved the annual "Red Ribbon" anti-drug program to be implemented during the week of Oct. 27. The week kicks off with an all-school assembly at 8:15 Monday morning, Oct. 27, and includes contests and activities throughout the week.
The board also briefly discussed the possibility of installing a track around the existing football field. A matching grant of $75,000 is available, but adding the track would require moving the football and softball fields. McEachern said the project would "take some doing," but didn't rule it out. Additional discussion with the city will be required.
Board Member Jodi Fuemmeler raised a question about the school lunch program. Slater's current policy regarding payment of lunch fees is to serve the minimum state requirement lunch (peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and a glass of milk) to students whose parents or guardians have not paid their accounts.
Fuemmeler said she is concerned about teasing from other students, particularly in the lower grades. McEachern said upcoming parent-teacher conferences are a good time to address the issue with parents, adding that while he understood the concern, "We must be good stewards of the school's money." McEachern also said that the number of delinquent accounts has dropped considerably since implementation of the policy last year, and said parents who have difficulty paying their accounts should make their problems known to the superintendent's office.
Missouri law regarding compulsory attendance: