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Family vacations during school costs Ripon USD $123,000 yearly
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RIPON – Mike Fisher enjoys taking his family away for spring training baseball.

But it’s been hit or miss for the Ripon Unified school board member on whether this time of year coincides with his children’s spring break schedule.

“Either way, parents are usually determined to take their children out of school for (family) vacation,” Fisher said at last Monday’s school board meeting.

For now, he and his colleagues see no reason to make changes to the policy on unexcused or preapproved absences.

RUSD, according to a report conducted by the Budget Advisory Committee, had 3,380 such absences – of that, 2,232 were reported as unexcused – tallying $99,700 in lost revenue due to absences during the recent school year.

Pre-approved additional day absences during this span consisted of 805 students equaling $23,650 in lost revenue.

Those figures were based on the 175 school days and an average daily attendance of 2,973.03 for calculation of unrestricted revenue limit funding, and the revenue per day estimated at $29.50 per student.

Additional days not pre-approved totaled 343.

The district managed to recoup some of the losses thanks to the Saturday school program, according to Superintendent Louise Johnson. Those figures were unavailable.

According to the committee, the district’s policy of allowing pre-approved unexcused absences is used “when a parent desires to take a child out of school for a vacation, family event, or other absences not allowable under the California Education Code.”

Earlier in the year, Johnson said, the board made a request to look into this matter.

“We had to wait for schools’ end to have a full attendance data for the 2010-2011 school year,” she added.

School districts are required to report absences to the state. But district officials say it’s tough to dissect all pre-approved absence days for one day absences.

“When a student is absent for multiple days for the same reason, it’s called an ‘incident,’” said Johnson.

She used the example of a student reported as absent – excused or unexcused – for two consecutive days.

“It’s one incident but two absences,” Johnson said. “If a student is absent for one day, but comes back for a day, and then is absent again, it is (reported as) two incidents and two absences.”

Trustee Donna Parks agreed that the policy should stay the same.

“I don’t think a change will discourage families from making their vacation plans,” she said.