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How Much Money Does a Day at the Parade Cost Benicia Schools?

With nearly 400 students absent from school on the same day as the parade honoring the San Francisco Giants, the Benicia Unified School District lost a significant amount of funding.

The Benicia Unified School District lost $11,400 in funding on Wednesday, October 31 when there were about 380 students who were absent from school.

The district receives slightly more than $30 per student per day in unrestricted funds from the state.  The state pays that money based on kids in school, so if a student is marked absent, the district doesn’t get paid, even if the absence is excused or verified with a doctor’s note.

According to Assistant Superintendent Michael Gardner, “If a student is not at school, The District does not receive any funding no matter what the reason. The only exception is if a student is going to be absent for more than 5 school-days and less than 20 school-days, we can place them on short term independent study. If they complete the work issued to them than we can claim them as being present.”

In a previous article Benicia Patch reported that 263 students were absent from Benicia High School, but since that time Principal Damon Wright said, “It was closer to 280.” 

That same day there were 61 students absent from Benicia Middle School and 43 absent from the district’s 4 elementary schools.

Most of the kids absent from the elementary schools were sick.  According to office personnel, there is an outbreak of flu going through the elementary schools. 

The high school and middle school are a different story.  Many of the students absent from those schools went to San Francisco to help celebrate the Giants victory in the World Series.

According to the office staff at Matthew Turner Elementary School where 11 children were absent from school with verified sickness, one student did go to the parade but not until after he was marked present during morning attendance.

Barbara Aragon, a teacher at Benicia High left the following comment on Patch: On Tuesday, my students told me outright that they would not be coming in Wednesday because they were going to the parade in SF. I wish parents would not allow this.

What do you think?  Did you pull your child out of school to attend the parade for the San Francisco Giants?  Was it worth all the money it will cost the school district? 

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If there’s something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor JB Davis at 707-628-0051 or email him at benicia@patch.com.

Miguel Colon November 02, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Trading one day of school for a lifetime memory seems like a great trade to me!
Ari Soglin November 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I agree with Miguel. I also don't like to cost the schools money, so I've just donated $30 to the Benicia Education Fund. Will other parents whose children skipped school to attend the parade do the same? http://www.beniciaeducationfoundation.org/donate-online.html
Ari Soglin November 02, 2012 at 03:27 PM
*Benicia Education Foundation
Kelly A. Ryan November 02, 2012 at 04:07 PM
I'm with you Miguel! I took my son to a field trip at Sonoma State University last year where I was teaching which was a really great expereince for him. Unfortuneatly I told the truth about where he was ( ahead of time) and I received a truancy notice that said we might have jail time! This was in Fairfield so perhaps things are run a bit more logically in Benicia! I had to laugh though when the school had a program a couple months later to "get kids excited about college." ;0
Rhonda November 02, 2012 at 05:02 PM
While Benicia Education Foundation is a wonderful way to make a contribution to your community, it does not pay teacher's salaries or the power bill. Child attendance does. I understand the desire to keep children out of school for such an event, but donating money to this foundation is not comparable to a day of attendance. This mass absence is about the loss of already budgeted money for the basics.
Benicia Mom November 02, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I have kids in elementary school and am also concerned about our funding so I did some research into it. From what I understand, the District gets money from the State based on what is called "ADA" funding (which stands for Average Daily Attendance). As best I can tell, the State's funding formula builds in an absence-rate for each District (say, 95% attendance rate). So when the District prepared it's budget for the year, it assumed some rate of absence in the numbers. In other words, its not really fair to look at a single day - Rather, so long as the number of absences over the course of a year don't fall below the built-in rate (say, 5%), the District should be within budget. This formula provides flexibility for parents to be able to take their kids to the dentist, go on college trips, or (God forbid) go celebrate a World Series victory without busting the District budget. On the other hand: Is the District underfunded and desperately in need of funding from parents, volunteers and non-profts such as BEF: YOU BET!! My suggestion is that everyone try to give a little more to support the schools - whether you chose to spend a day with 1 million baseball fans or not!
JB Davis (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 06:11 PM
The ADA is based on last year's attendance and this year's attendance will be the basis for next year's ADA. I think that is the reason the absence rate is already figured into the ADA number. And it is also the reason the school wants attendance as high as possible during the school year. The higher the attendance this year, the higher the ADA next year.
John November 02, 2012 at 10:17 PM
It's a problem when everyone is having the same "once in a lifetime memory" on the same day, and many of them are going just because "everyone else is going." While parents have the right to place experiences before school at times, they certainly should never put peer pressure and cool-parent competitions before school.
James November 03, 2012 at 05:31 AM
Would have been better to have the parade on Saturday!
Rhonda November 03, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I agree! I wrote to the Giants about the loss of Bay Area school revenue and received this response: Thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts with us. Many of our players do not live in the area so when the season is over, many want to get home right away. Hence the reason, the parade is scheduled a day or two after any championship game. Regards, San Francisco Giants Guest Services
Amused November 04, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Really???? Have something better to do. The world doesn't revolve around Benicia. Taking the time to email the Giants is almost as pathetic as the fact I'm even commenting. Get over it people.
Rhonda November 04, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I'm sorry to hear of your myopia. Bigger picture - the Bay Area (California) experienced a mass absence - which is what I emailed about. SFUSD released a press release before the parade saying that they could not afford the absences. Some SF schools had 75% attendance! This is a loss for school budgets. I find it strange that you think it is pathetic to email the Giants. Should I just complain in the local Patch instead?
Phil M November 05, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I don’t like how we are not worried about what the students are missing. But rather how much money the school is not going to get. It is never good whenever you view a child in the eyes of a dollar sign. ________________________________________ Find a Career College near you, www.americolleges.com

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