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Aledo considers truancy fine for students and parents

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Time is money when it comes to funding for schools.

Districts are given money based on average attendance and each absence costs the Mercer County School District $17.50 per student.

In response to high absenteeism, Aledo could start imposing fines for truancy.

As school secretaries, Shelly Snyder and Jen Murphy field the calls from parents calling in their sick and sometimes not-so sick kids.

"Each student is different,” said Snyder. “There's a different circumstance."

Out of almost 400 students at Mercer County High School, 40 were absent from school Tuesday.

"It'd be a lot higher than a normal day,” said Murphy “But, it is flu season."

Last year, Mercer County High School's attendance rate was 91-percent.

It may sound good, but the school's principal, Gavin Sronce, says it needs to be even higher and he says parents need to get on board.

"We're trying to limit these absent days so we can educate their child appropriately and the importance of being in class can never be understated," said Sronce.

If approved, the city could start issuing fines to students and parents for truancy which, Sronce says, is obvious to spot in most kids by the number of absences during the school year.

"Closer to 60, 80,100 days that just rarely, if at all, come to school,” he said. “Legitimate students, who are trying to graduate- 40, 50, 60 days out of school.”

They’re only allowed five excused absences.

It's a problem that not only affects the chronically absent student, but their classmates as well.

"When that absent student does come back, the teacher has to take time to bring that child up to speed and sometimes kids have to wait for that to take place," said Superintendent Alan Boucher.

While he supports the fine, Sronce says it's not a once-size-fits-all solution.

The responsibility also lies on the district itself.

"Have we done everything we can as schools to make this an inviting place, no matter who the kid is and where they're from?"

The ordinance is up for a second reading later this month.

It has to have council approval in order for the fines to be imposed.