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Buhler USD 313 Board Hears Report on Chronic Absenteeism, Discusses Ways to Address the Issue and Engage Students


By Lucky Kidd


BUHLER, Kan. — A report on chronic absenteeism was presented to the Buhler USD 313 Board of Education at Monday’s meeting. Director of secondary education Paul Erickson told the board chronic absenteeism, which has been identified as a major factor hindering student achievement, is defined as absences, whether excused or unexcused, for ten percent or more of scheduled school days.

Going back to 2016, USD 313 has been consistently below the state average for chronic absenteeism, which for the district and Kansas as a whole spiked during the 2020-21 and especially 2021-22 school years. In the latter year, 22.3 percent of USD 313 students were considered chronically absent, which was still below the state average.

For the 2022-23 year, USD 313’s rate dropped by nearly half, while the state rate was only down slightly. As of the end of January, the district’s chronic absenteeism rate was at 10.1 percent, with individual buildings ranging from six percent at Union Valley to 12.8 percent at Buhler High School.

Erickson told the board in addition to monthly reports on it, they are communicating with parents on a regular basis, with counselors and administrators following up with specific cases, especially with those who are considered truant. Social media campaigns are also being conducted on the subject. Other steps being taken include promoting engagement, relationships, a sense of belonging and activities and involvement.

He added another step they are taking is addressing they’re through the professional learning process by knowing and implementing best practices as it relates to combating chronic absenteeism.