Dear Editor – Attendance and Funding Tied Together

Dear Editor,

I am writing about the dire financial state of the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD). In short order, the district went from a small surplus last year to a deficit of $2.9 million this year–out of a budget of just over $100 million. While wasteful spending is a large part of the problem, so is dwindling revenue due to poor student attendance.

A significant portion of the budget is based on funding from the state. In turn, that funding is based on average daily attendance (ADA). Districts with low attendance receive less state money relative to the actual student population.

CCUSD is one of those districts. Consider this, students who miss 18 or more days of school are classified as chronically absent. District wide, CCUSD has 1185 students who are chronically absent, or 17.1 % of enrolled students. But attendance in general is also a problem. In Culver City, on average, all students are absent 11.2 days per year – based on public data.

High absenteeism in CCUSD means the district is losing millions in revenue each year. And based on the state formula for attendance calculations, CCUSD will face even great problems next year unless it is able to bring up its attendance rate. I have spoken about this at many board meetings, but my words were ignored.

But the fact remains, when it comes to managing the budget, improving attendance is the one of the easiest ways to mitigate the deficit. But for whatever reason, the board refuses to agendize this important item for discussion. The community needs to be demand that the board address chronic absenteeism, and attendance in general, as it grapples with the budget deficit.

Carolyn B. Libuser

Editor’s note – This letter has been updated. The original text had “a deficit of $9.2 million…” Those numbers were transposed, and the author of the letter asked for a correction.

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