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Covington to Discontinue Contract with Truancy Program; Tech Repairs Add Up

The Covington Board of Education decided that it will not renew a contract with a program designed to track truancy in the district.

Covington Independent Public Schools contracted with School Innovations & Achievement for a program called Attention2Attendance, which is designed to help district better track truancy and to improve communication with parents before absences become a serious problem.

District leaders said that there were problems with the program so a non-renewal notice, but if those problems were addressed, the district would re-evaluate the program.

One statistic noted that two out of three seniors in the district would be considered truant. Kentucky law defines truancy as three or more unexcused absences. 67 percent of seniors at Holmes High School met that definition.

According to Attention2Attendance, the national average was 55 percent truancy for seniors. 

36 percent of seniors were habitually truant while 29 percent were chronically absent (missing 10 percent or more of the academic year, excused or unexcused).

District spokesperson Debra Vance told The River City News that the issues that concerned the board were technical and cost-related.

Meanwhile, the board got a lesson in the costs to keep up the district's technology.

Travis Huber, director of technology for the district, noted that high-speed internet has been installed in all the schools and district buildings. The district also has 1,214 Apple iPads, 996 Apple MacBooks, 70 Chromebooks, and additional Windows-based computers and tablets. Four computer techs work to keep the district's equipment running, including 600 telephones, 50 copiers, and 156 network printers.

Huber discussed the common issue of repairing broken screens on tablets. He has not been able to find a local company that could repair broken screens at an acceptable price, so broken screens are sent to AGI Repair in Pennsylvania, which covers shipping and repairs most of the screens for $149. 

$6,000 from fees paid by students to take the devices home have covered the costs of repairing the 45 sent to AGI so far. 11 more were sent out last week.

Terry Poindexter, a retired Covington teacher, came to the board meeting and said that the teachers had held a rally Monday, at which the new pension solution was discussed.

"I will tell you what's going to happen," she told the board. "It will kill public education. There will be a mass exodus of teachers. And there will be no subs because of the limitation of hours. Everyone should call their representative, at 800-372-7181, and tell them to find the revenue to pay for the retirement system as it is."

 She paused.

"This new plan seems like a back door for a charter school plan."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Covington Board of Education meets (RCN)