Prior to this school year, students have not had to follow an attendance policy. After many years of its absence, the district has passed a new attendance policy that has received negative feedback from the student body.
The new policy allows students no more than ten absences per semester, or 20 a school year. If a student is absent from school more than allowed, they will lose course credit in the class or classes they missed. The aim, of course, is not to intimidate the students, but to promote attendance in school and learning in the classroom.
The restriction on college visits also has many upperclassmen denouncing the policy. While it does seem unfair to be allotted only one college visit per junior and senior year, 20 absences is a lot for many students. A student is allowed to go on more than these two college visits; however they must be aware that the absences do add up (although twenty absences for the whole school year is quite a lot to begin with). Mr. Berkowitz, as well as others, is hopeful this new policy will promote learning in the classroom, and said “over 14% of students were absent more than 20 days last year.” With the implementation of these new rules, the number is expected to decrease and the number of students in the classroom should rise.
In the assembly regarding the new attendance policy, Mr. Brennan informed a concerned student body that there is an appeals process to justify the absences (in any circumstance). In order to combat the growing angst among students at Foran, Mr. Brennan assured the students that there will be no need for an appeals process if “self-monitoring and checking PowerSchool for absences” is taken advantage of.
One particular component of the new attendance policy was the issue of absences due to tragedies within the family (such as deaths). Of course in such circumstances it is necessary for a student to take temporary leave from school. Mr. Berkowitz does not want students to think they won’t receive course credit because of a death in the family, rather he wants to “help students get back on track” after their absence.
The Milford Board of Education passed this attendance policy in hopes of raising awareness for the importance of being in school. Mr. Berkowitz put to rest this new idea of a loss-of-credit policy by reassuring that other surrounding districts have similar policies. Because Milford had no structured attendance policy in the past, it was important to enact an attendance protocol so students would reap the benefits of spending more time in the classroom.
Mr. Berkowitz said this new policy should not be a problem for many students (seeing as how it wasn’t a problem for the 80 or so percentage of students last year who were not absent more than 20 days). The policy stands as “a message that we believe it is important to come to school. If you come to school you will learn more and academic achievement will improve” as described by Mr. Berkowitz and with the reinforcement of the attendance policy, the palpable sense of angst in the student body should diminish.