By Sam Wildow
PIQUA — Administrators at Piqua City Schools discussed the topic of attendance during the Piqua Board of Education meeting on Thursday, with Piqua High School Principal Rob Messick discussing concerns about the high school’s 86% attendance rate.
“We’re in kind of a little bit of a crisis at Piqua High School,” Messick said. He said approximately 14% of their students are chronic absences or truant.
“At midterm, we had 270 students who were failing class due to the amount of absences,” Messick said. He said the biggest group of their student body dealing with that issue is their freshmen group.
“We know that if a freshman doesn’t pass Algebra or English 9, the chances of them being successful in school are slim, so we have some really big challenges,” Messick said.
He said the high school has seen a “serious spike in social and emotional problems” leading to these absences. Students who were remote last year are also some of the students who are absent more often. They are also facing issues with seniors who are living on their own or who are not living at their parents’ home.
Messick said some parents are also asking high school staff for help in getting their children out of bed to go to school.
“We’re working our way through that,” Messick said.
The high school is addressing some of these social and emotional issues by promoting the sense of community at the high school and making it a place where students want to go each day.
“We need to get the kids reconnected with each other,” Messick said.
One of the reasons that getting attendance back up is important its correlation with the graduation rate. Messick said their graduation rates typically line up with their attendance rates each year.
Messick said they are “extremely accommodating” with students and will arrange transportation if parents cannot get their kids to school.
Messick, along with other administrators, praised the help of Krista Hoying, who has been helping them work with chronically absent students and their families.
Also on Thursday, Piqua City Schools Superintendent Dwayne Thompson discussed the substitute tax levy coming up on the Nov. 2 ballot. This levy collects a fixed amount of less than $2.1 million dollars in taxes. The levy is 4.88 mills for each one dollar of valuation, which amounts to $0.488 for each one hundred dollars of valuation for the initial year of the tax, for a continuing period of time, commencing in 2021, first due in calendar year 2022.
There is no increase in taxes to voters as this substitute levy is replacing the emergency levy first approved by Piqua voters in 2003. Thompson said if the district lost those funds, “that would put us in that emergency state.”
For more information on the ballot issue, visit www.cfqps.org.