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Go to school – you might win an iPod

To deal with looming budget cuts, three schools in the Grass Valley School District will soon offer gift certificates and even iPods as incentives to boost attendance and increase funding from the state.

Every year, school districts across the county lose thousands of dollars in average daily attendance due to student absences. The state funds the schools based on the number of students attending classes, not by the enrollment, said Jon Byerrum, superintendent of the Grass Valley School District.

“The Grass Valley School District has between 93 to 95 percent attendance,” Byerrum said. “If we had perfect attendance all year for all students, we would receive an additional $400,000 to $500,000.



“Our goal next year is to increase attendance by at least one percent districtwide, which would result in an $80,000 budget boost,” Byerrum said.

A 1 percent increase in attendance in Lyman Gilmore School for a year – one of the four schools in the Grass Valley School District – would generate $30,000 to $40,000 for the school district, said Brian Buckley, principal of Lyman Gilmore.




“Grass Valley School District receives about $6,000 per student per year. The average daily attendance is what generates our revenue limit funding, which is a majority of the district’s income,” Byerrum said.

Grass Valley School District will have to slash about $500,000 from the 2008-2009 budget to meet the cuts suggested in the governor’s proposed budget, Byerrum added.

Lyman Gilmore School, Hennessy School and Margaret G. Scotten School will pilot a new incentive program starting Feb. 19, which will go on until April 4, Byerrum said. Students who have perfect attendance or just one day of absence within this period will receive a gift certificate and have their names entered in a drawing for an iPod, Buckley said.

At Lyman Gilmore, students with perfect attendance within the given dates will win two gift certificates and enter their names twice in the drawing, Buckley added.

Other schools such as Alta Sierra School, Pleasant Ridge School and Magnolia School in the Pleasant Ridge Union School District have offered incentives such as tickets to theme parks and gift certificates from local businesses to students with perfect attendance in the past, but none has used the incentives as a strategy to combat the imminent decline in state funding.

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To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

THE COSTS

This is what the lack of perfect attendance costs some local school districts:

• Nevada City School District lost $321,000 last year in average daily attendance.

• Grass Valley School District loses between $400,000 and $ 500,000 a year from student absences.

• Pleasant Ridge Union School District lost $203,733 between August 2007 and January 2008 from student absences.

• For every percent decline in attendance, Nevada Joint Union High School District loses $267,000.


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