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THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Several 100 Students Absent Daily in the Gloucester City School District



Dorothy Philbin | CNBNews


GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (February 17, 2022)--The easy answer is "No."  Let's look at the Pre-K (3 and 4 year old) program first.  The state pays 100% for the Pre-K program for all Abbott districts.  But what are they paying for?  After 25 years in education, I can tell you

Research shows that an estimated $19 million per year is being spent on students who just don't come to school. (Pinterest image)

"nothing."  It is a babysitting service that is funded as education.  Even the Department of Education admits "In 2012 [DOE] determined that score gains in the Abbott districts were no higher than score gains in high poverty" non-Abbott districts."*

One evaluation concluded that the effect on academic achievement in Abbott districts was greater in lower grades and declined in upper [elementary] grades until there was no difference in high school.  I would even argue with this statement.  In order to have valid results, there needs to be a valid sampling of subjects, in this case - students.
Our problem is getting our students to school - they don't seem to want to go and (for the gray hairs) Pat Fitzwater isn't here anymore.  Pat had no problem going to the homes and bringing students back with her, with or without a police escort.  These are the absenteeism district percentages for the 2018 - 2019 (last year for which data was available.)
Pre-K         40%
K                42%
Gr 1            36%
Gr 2            31%
Gr 3            25%
Gr 4            36%
Gr 5            11%
Gr 6            17%
Gr 7            14%
Gr 8            21%
Gr 9            15%
Gr 10          42%
Gr 11           36%
Gr 12           39%
The state percentages are lower but still nothing to brag about.  However, in the results of the year-end report Gloucester City "Did Not Meet Target" on the attendance of any grade or any subgroup within any grade. 
Nowhere could I find the number of attendance officers in the district but with the attendance problems we see, no number of attendance officers could be enough.**
With the information provided on the district's webpage, I had to make a very roughly estimated calculation on the absentee numbers and cost. 
  • Cold Springs complex-An estimated 346 students are absent on any given day. 
  • Elementary Middle School- An estimated 123 students are absent on any given day.
  • High school-An estimated 135 students absent on any given day. 
The state of New Jersey is paying nearly $23,000 per student per year.  Again, this is a rough estimate, but we are wasting about $19 million per year on students who just don't come to school.
The total number of students in the Gloucester City School District, according to the district's 2021-22 friendly budget, is 2,320. 
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*   State of New Jersey Department website.
**  Gloucester City School District web page.