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Absence Makes the Wallet Grow Thinner

It’s perhaps a sign of the times—when public schools are being pressured to pour every available resource into acing standardized tests—that the Scotts Valley Unified School District in California is asking parents to donate $36.13 for each school day a student is absent. The exception: sick days. “If a child is sick, we want that child to stay at home,” Superintendent Susan Silver explained. “But if a child is out skiing or going to Disneyland or whatever, that has a financial effect on other children in the district.” That’s because California funds schools according to daily attendance, not overall enrollment. Last year, the district lost $223,500, with the average student missing 7.7 days—more than two for reasons other than sickness. Silver, who’s helmed the Scotts Valley district for just over a year, brought the idea with her from another district, which raked in $30,000 annually. And parents have been receptive—mainly because the donation is voluntary and tax-deductible. Already, after just a few weeks of the policy being in place, district officials have collected more than $2,000

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