New Saturday School Is Set for March 29

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UPDATE—LEBEC, CA (Saturday, March 25, 2014 at 5 p.m.)— It is confirmed that Saturday Fun Day Enrichment Program will be held this Saturday, March 29 and on April 5. See details about this community effort for kids and schools in tomorrow morning’s issue of The Mountain Enterprise. See the bus schedule at right. Click to enlarge.
LEBEC, CA (Saturday, March 11, 2014 at 12:30 a.m.)—The first Saturday school was an exciting day, agreed second grade student Nehemiah Zimemo and administrator Sara Haflich, principal of Frazier Mountain High School. An estimated 300 students participated, all coming to the high school site. This school on Saturday event will help bring about $9,700 back to the schools, in just one 9 a.m. to noon morning.

The goal is to help raise the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) for this year, and to raise the baseline for next year’s revenue calculation by the state. Absences in this rural district —although improving—have caused about $200,000 in revenue losses to El Tejon Unified School District this year.

March 22 is first step in race against the clock to help schools recover financially

By Patric Hedlund

‘SOS’ never sounded so fun. Basketball clinics, technology tutoring, chess, art projects and more will greet students coming to a special ‘School on Saturday’ this Saturday, March 22. Teachers and support staff will donate their time to hold special 8 a.m. to 12 noon K-12 enrichment sessions, all at Frazier Mountain High School.

Bus service is provided. High student participation can help win back over $100,000 lost due to absences at El Tejon Unified School District this year. If all 780 students responded to this SOS call this Saturday, ETUSD could win back over $24,000 in this one morning alone, new Superintendent Rodney Wallace explained.

But it doesn’t stop there. A series of well-attended “make-up” days between now and April 15 could also increase the payments from the state for ETUSD schools for all of next year—enough to help close the $200,000 shortfall confronting the district for 2014-2015.

Here’s why: No matter how many students are registered in a district, the state only pays schools for average daily attendance (usually called ‘ADA’).

Rural districts typically have lower ADA due to transportation issues. Over the years, our rural district has logged some of the lowest attendance rates in the state—which means it is being paid for fewer students than it serves.

But parents and students are starting to get the big picture about why attendance is vital to keeping schools fully funded so programs can be added rather than cut.
The state ADA average is 94%. In the past, ETUSD ADA has dipped as low as 84% and has had several 87% years, the financial consultant from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office explained to the ETUSD board this month. But now that ADA rate is climbing.

Parents are helping. Frazier Park School ADA has been climbing past 93% as Principal Keri St. Joer has been showing families the thousands of dollars that are lost to absences each month. Principal Rosalie Jimenez is also seeing improvement at El Tejon School.

The state pays about $31 per day per student for education services. If annual ADA drops by one student, that is a $7,500 loss for the coming year. But public support for special School on Saturday events like the one this week—and other similar actions—will boost the ADA base for next year’s revenue calculation. Boosting the ADA must be done before the state’s April 15 cut-off date.

Photo caption:

‘Hungry and naked’ is what we’d all be without agriculture, FFA students told trustees in a plea that the high school’s ag ed not be cut. ‘It won’t be,’ trustees said. Students are asked to join in the Saturday School effort.

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This is part of the March 21, 2014 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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