Pay for Absence?

On one hand, we have schools paying kids for perfect attendance. And now, we have schools requesting a “donation” every time you keep your child home from school.

Parents in Orange Unified School District (Orange County, CA) received a letter at the beginning of the 2011 school year requesting a $40 donation for every day that they keep their child home from school. This is to help make up for the $5.5 million that the school ‘loses’ annually, due to student absence. Five months after beginning the program, the school had collected $920.00.

The school apparently sees this program as a public service, because parents report feeling guilty for allowing their children to skip school for things like doctor’s appointments and ski trips.

“It’s a way to clear your conscious. It’s not a mandatory fee,” says Board Member Mark Wayland. (“We can discuss the irony of that comment later,” says my Inner Grammar Girl)

What do you think? Should parents be requested to pay a fee every time they keep their child home from school?

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10 Responses to Pay for Absence?

  1. Joy says:

    Holy Cow. $40? For a missed day? I’d have a problem with that since the only time my kids stayed home was if they were sick or we’d agreed to it. Every once in a while if my boys wanted to stay home I’d let them. BUT if they played the “I’m sick” card, I made their lives hell if they weren’t “really” sick. I thought if they just wanted to stay home once or twice a year, I’d let them but if they were sick, they were confined.

    I wonder how they get that kind of money out of truant kids who’s parents don’t have that kind of money. A lot of people only make that in a day.

  2. Joy says:

    I mean yes, it’s a great way to make money but that seems like such a big amount.

  3. SKL says:

    My thought would be that they are trying to show parents in a concrete way that keeping kids home from school costs the school money. I’m sure they didn’t think many people would pay, but maybe there would be times they’d be guilted into forcing their kids to go to school.

    I don’t know about all this manipulation. I mean, looking at the big picture, is it really right for the school to lose money when kids are home sick? It’s not like they can staff accordingly, right? It’s not like they can turn down the furnace or even prep less hot lunch because kids don’t give advance notice of sick days. I’m sure there is some logic in ther somewhere, but I don’t understand it. And if it doesn’t make any sense in the first place, how does guilting the parents about it help? And the other part of the “big picture” is, we already spend so much money on the schools and in many cases, we don’t see results commensurate with the investment – to put it mildly. It bewilders me to think that kids can be in school 7 hours per day, 180 days per year, for multiple years and still have such a high rate of illiteracy. I understand some learning issues, but the majority of kids are able to amass much more knowledge in much less time. At some point you have to ask yourself, is this really such a good place for them to be?

    But back to the micro level – I think most parents almost always try to get their kids to school when they aren’t sick. The ones who don’t are so messed up that gimmacks like this aren’t going to change them.

  4. Laura says:

    My big problem with this comes from a person (me) who pays for the Public Schools to function, and then has to pay for her own child to attend a school outside of the public school system. Like you pointed out, SKL, parents are already paying a HUGE amount of money, in the form of property taxes and other levied taxes (I can’t remember what they’re called now, but around here they’ll add a penny to the sales tax and dedicate it to various projects. Often those projects benefit the schools. Some sort of “option”, I think it’s called. Maybe I’ll remember it).

    So, to then have them pay an extra $40 to cover “lost” revenue? That is BS. And that brings us to my other big problem with this – a point that SKL also brought up. WHY are schools getting funds pulled when a student is absent? Those taxes that I pay are *supposed* to go to my local school district to provide teachers, books, desks, janitors, etc., etc., etc. I do not intend for it to be a punishment to the school when a child is kept home sick. I WANT kids to be kept home when they’re sick. That way, maybe MY family wouldn’t be sick so often, because the place is a Petri dish. Anyway, I see this as “double-taxation”. Especially if it becomes a mandatory fee – which, honestly, I can see happening very soon. If people don’t complain loudly, this will become routine.

    This just outlines, for me, many of the problems with the public school system, and only some of the reasons why Josh is going to a private school. If I had my way, we’d strip the entire thing down to the bolts and start from scratch.

    • Laura says:

      For the record, it’s called a “Local Option Sales Tax”. It is levied for any number of special projects, and has a start and end date. It seems to be (usually) a penny or two added to the sales tax, and it must be voted on each time it is used. It generally also seems to be city-specific, as opposed to district-wide or county-wide. Although, now that I think of it, I think there’s one for the county, as well.

  5. mssc54 says:

    There is no bad way for government skools to get OUR money (according to them).

    What about mental health days? Sometimes it’s just better for kids to hang out with their dad than go to government skool. It builds a relationship. 😉

  6. Nikki says:

    Wow! My mom would have gone in the poor house if this was the case when I was growing up. Maybe not such a bad idea. lol But $40?! That’s ridiculous. Maybe if it were an unexcused absence. But what if they are sick. Say you have to take them to the doctor, then perhaps a prescription. I’d be looking at up to or more than $100 for that one day my son missed school. This is going to back fire, more parents are going to make their kids go to school SICK! This is stupid, in my opinion. Too many what if’s.

  7. joanharvest says:

    I can only say No No and NO for so many reasons I can’t even begin to list them. I agree with Laura and her reasons especially the petri dish one. Too many parents already send their kids to school when they are sick. Imagine what would happen if you start charging them when they keep their kids home.

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