Los Angeles Unified School District students face new consequences if they cut classes, and schools have a new incentive to improve attendance.

The school district board of education approved an attendance motion Tuesday, July 13th, designed to keep students in classes and “daily attendance revenue” flowing into the school district.

Public schools in California receive some portion of state education funding based on the daily attendance rate of students.

The school district says that in its Los Angeles district 30,000 middle school and high school students miss school on a daily basis. The school district loses money when those students are away from classes.

The average district attendance rate in Los Angeles middle schools is 94 percent and in high schools is 90 percent.

A one-half percent increase in the districtwide attendance rate would generate $14 million in additional revenue to the Los Angeles Unified School District, officials say.

“In the current fiscal crisis, we need every dollar and this is money that can go back to the classroom,” said Jon Lauritzen, a board member who co-sponsored the District Student Attendance Policy.

The District Student Attendance Policy, authored by school board vice president Marlene Canter, who represents the local area and is the board’s vice president, is part of the district’s Count Me In campaign to improve student attendance.

“Students need to be at school and in class,” Canter said. “It’s their ticket to success in life and they need to know that there are consequences for truancy.

“This new policy uses a carrot and stick approach that has been successful in other districts.”

The motion directs the district superintendent to develop a comprehensive attendance policy that includes a variety of interventions, incentives and “expanded partnerships.”

The motion also changes district policy and authorizes teachers and schools to grade students on attendance as part of a progressive system of consequences of truancy.

The motion also specifically authorizes that 50 percent of any additional revenue generated by improved student attendance at a school may be provided by the superintendent to that school’s discretionary account as an added incentive.

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