Chronic absenteeism is defined as a student missing 10% of a school year for any reason. In reality, however, the national rate of chronic absenteeism could actually be as high as 15% – meaning that approximately 5 million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent each year.
While chronic absenteeism puts students at risk for low academic achievement, truancy also costs school districts hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in state funding.
Multiply this loss of state funding year after year and the financial effect on your school district could be staggering. This harsh reality is just one of the reasons people are turning their attention to student GPS tracking.
School districts are recognizing the benefit of student GPS tracking to improve attendance numbers – this ensures a quality education for students and qualification for attendance-related state reimbursements.
It’s been documented across many studies and news articles that student GPS tracking systems significantly improve attendance and solve truancy problems. By reducing absenteeism, a student tracking system is a great tool to help you achieve eligibility for much-needed funding.
A student tracking system works with ID cards and readers that are installed on the bus and at various places throughout a school building – in classrooms, libraries, lunchrooms and building entrances/exits. The readers make it so that a student can’t skip school after homeroom is over. The readers actually alert appropriate parties about a student’s attendance in each classroom.
Reimbursement programs and parameters vary from state to state. Some state funding programs have a formula that includes daily attendance on buses and in school, while others take a monthly snapshot of the day with the highest attendance to arrive at an average. And some formulas are even yearly – one snapshot on one day of the year.
There are two common types of reimbursement for attendance:
The other common area of state reimbursements is special needs transportation, and this program is handled differently. Anything involving an IEP (Individualized Education Program) for children with disabilities has different rates, and these are guaranteed rates. For example, Pennsylvania's is $100 a day per qualifying special needs student.
IEP reimbursements are received through Medicare, via the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act passed in 1988. This law stated that federal Medicare funds must be available to reimburse for the cost of health-related services found in a child’s IEP, individualized plan or individualized family service plan. What this means is that state education agencies are eligible for federal reimbursement for the health-related services they’re providing to children who are eligible for Medicaid.
A student GPS tracking system monitors attendance on buses and in school buildings, along with specific services for special needs students. The card readers may be placed anywhere you need to apply student tracking to keep students safe while capturing the data necessary to qualify for funding.
Attendance also plays a factor in receiving funding for your school bus transportation, including up to a 60% reimbursement of transportation costs. The Department of Education takes many things into consideration when it comes to transportation:
And for kids who are scheduled to take a bus to school, it’s important to monitor whether they actually get on the bus, their walking distance to a bus stop and if they live on hazardous roads.
In Pennsylvania, in terms of walking distance to a bus stop, the law allows a school district to ask a child to walk up to a mile and a half to the bus stop. The “mile and a half” is measured by public roads and doesn’t include a private lane or residence walkway.
If a stop is farther out for a bus, this results in more unloaded miles than loaded miles, and school districts get penalized as a result. However, because students are asked to walk farther to their bus stop, even if they’re registered to get on a bus, parents may drive them all the way to school anyway.
Student GPS tracking helps monitor what child gets on and off a bus and when. This data helps your school district make adjustments to routing so that your load/unload miles are in line with state funding eligibility requirements.
Chronic absenteeism could be resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of state funding dollars for your school district every day.
Implementing student GPS tracking to improve attendance pays off in many ways, from receiving much-needed governmental reimbursements to ensuring your students are safe and stay in school to get the best education possible.
Once the system is installed, the GPS tracking device also helps you monitor other aspects of your transportation management to optimize bus routes. When your routing is streamlined, you save even more money to continue supporting educational programs.
Ready to learn more about the benefits of improving attendance? Click here to download a free comprehensive guide to student GPS tracking. You may also call 484-941-0820 to speak directly with a student transportation expert at BusBoss.