Farwell BOE sends attendance policy back to committee

August 11, 2016

By Pat Maurer

After reviewing the staff committee’s proposed changes to the School District’s Attendance and Homework Policy in the Student Handbook, the Farwell Board of Education sent it back to the committee for “review and revision” at their meeting August 1.

Board members objected to the proposed recommendation of a grade reduction for students who miss school for more than 12 days in one trimester.
Trustee Holly Thrush said, “I don’t want to see us taking [grades] away from kids, some who may be dealing with family issues. They earned those grades whether they were there or not,” she said. “I’m uncomfortable with taking someone’s future away from them,” she added, “This policy is going to affect some students in a terrible way.”

Superintendent Carl Seiter noted, “The majority of cases are not what you are describing.”
Board President Max Paine agreed, saying, “I struggle with the grade reduction [proposed]. Grade reduction is really severe.”
Trustee Joe Maxey added, “I’m not a big fan of reducing grades, but missing school is a problem all over.
Teacher Matt Horodyski (High School Math) said, “You can’t use academics to punish behavior.”

Thrush suggested that the committee delete attendance points rather than lowering grades for missing too many days of school or come up with another way to address the problem.

After much discussion, board members agreed that they would not support lowering a student’s academic grades for missing school.
Perfect attendance was also an issue for the board members. Their consensus was that the award of a perfect attendance breakfast should be for students who do not miss any days, excused or otherwise.

Another part of the handbook changes dealt with assignments that are late. Students would have up to five days to complete them for 50 percent credit. After five days they would get zero credit.

With a graduation date set for June 4 next year, Seiter noted that seniors without fines and who have all work completed would attend their last day of school May 17, while students with fines and incomplete work would attend for an additional week and be released May 24. “This should be an incentive to work harder,” he said.

Other than the reduction of grades for poor attendance and the perfect attendance breakfast requirements, the board didn’t have any concerns with other changes to the handbook and complemented the teachers for their hard work.
The policy was sent back to the FHS staff committee for revisions.

In his report to the board, Seiter said the asbestos abatement has been started and the new roof is on and would be completely done by Thursday. He said new door safety devices are installed in the Middle School, and are ongoing in the Elementary with the High School scheduled next.

He also said petitions have been turned in for the board seats on the November ballot. President Max Paine will face Kellee Robinson for a two year seat; Incumbents Joe Maxey and Jaclyn Dean will face Bernie Hurley and Bill Geyer on the ballot for two four-year seats; and Incumbents John Gross, Rose Sharp and Shari Buccilli will face challenges for the three six-year terms from Angelina Hammond, Guy Stover and Arthur Ferguson.

Other business at the August 1 meeting included:

*No support for a motion to layoff High School Math teacher Matt Horodyski, who earlier in the meeting had questioned whether the Board Layoff Policy had been followed;

*Approval of a year leave of absence for Elementary Paraprofessional Crystal Music;

*Approval of the resignation of High School Secretary Sue Robinson.

*Approval of the changes to the requirements under the Certification of Completion for students who graduate from Farwell Area Schools.

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