EKY superintendents seeing low attendance rates

With the devastating floods pushing their start dates back, students lost valuable school days.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 4:11 PM EST
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - Eastern Kentucky school districts have had a rough start to the first half of the school year.

With the devastating floods pushing their start dates back, students lost valuable school days.

As the new year approaches, attendance levels are reaching new lows. One school’s numbers are as low as 71%.

Superintendents of flood-impacted districts joined together to discuss the difficulties they are facing.

“We’re only gonna go about 160 days total of instruction, and we’ve not even started to deal with the winter weather yet,” Perry County Schools superintendent Jonathan Jett said.

After the July flooding left many students and teachers without homes, attendance numbers have dropped. In Perry County, high school principal Michelle Ritchie-Curtis says many families are working to rebuild, which is starting to take a toll on students. On top of that, she says more illnesses are spreading throughout the school.

“Attendance is going lower and lower each day,” Ritchie-Curtis said. “The students are at the nurse; they’re sick. Their parents call and let us know that my child is sick, and to please let the teachers know so they know they’re not just missing school.”

Ritchie-Curtis says attendance at the school is at about 83% right now, but it should probably reflect lower.

The huddle held Tuesday for these school districts was meant to see how the Kentucky Board of Education can help these schools improve.

“Bi-weekly, we’ve been checking in with them, just providing a listening ear with them about issues that might arise,” Kentucky Department of Education chief communications officer Toni Konz Tatman said.

At Perry County Central High School, Ritchie-Curtis says she sees an average of four kids at the nurse’s office, which is not typical. She says their biggest priority is the safety and health of their students, and after the floods, they just wanted to ensure their students were taken care of.

“Since then, the attendance has went up, and then the sickness has really caused the attendance to plummet, and again, those students who are homeless, it really seems to impact them.”

Ritchie-Curtis adds that if they needed to use an NTI day, they would work quickly to get devices out to students as soon as possible.

Superintendents at the meeting Tuesday say they want help with rebuilding funds. Another meeting is set for December 20.