Respiratory disease falls on BVH

Illnesses affecting the school budgeting

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Infographic by Angelina Ruckman

As the number of students getting sick increases, the funding for BVH’s next school year decreases. BVH Attendance Coordinator Antonio Gutierrez encourages students to clear their absences for it to be considered excused.

Temperatures drop and flu season begins. Since October, it has been cold and windy throughout the months. Many students and teachers are becoming sick due to the flu and respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19 and the common cold. With many students missing school, their absences have a profound impact on the budget at Bonita Vista High (BVH). 

“The school is [given funding] at the beginning of the year, [for] the whole year. At the end of the year, the district looks at the budget to see if they are going to have a good year or a challenging year, for the following year,” BVH Principal Lee Romero said.

Attendance Coordinator Antonio Gutierrez manages attendance and checks up on students when they miss more than five days of school. BVH, like many other schools, can be affected by the amount of students being absent from school due to being sick.

“Currently, at BVH we have 2,150 students and the state says, ‘You have this many students based on average daily attendance, this is how many students attend on a daily basis. So, when you have students that are absent, that does take away money from the school,” Gutierrez said.

The number of students determines how much money is put into the school to supplement the funding for the next year. When students do not attend school, this affects both the district and students in various negative ways.

“It’s [the pay at the beginning of the year is] a formula for funding districts by the number of kids who attend school [yearly] and if a kid reaches a certain number at some point, it does affect the budget, but not at a school level. It is at [the] district level,” Romero said.

When students miss school days “the state would give us funding for the excused absences,” if there was reasoning behind it, according to Gutierrez. This explains the pressure that BVH has on parents to clear their students’ absences. Doing so, prevents both the students from getting placed on the choices list and the school not having enough money in the budget. 

“If a student is out for five days, they can get an independent study contract that helps with the finances,” BVH nurse Bernadette Currin said.

Now the message is, ‘If you feel sick at all, stay home. If you’re coming back [from being sick], make sure you wear a mask,”

— Attendance Coordinator Antonio Gutierrez

An independent study contract is a voluntary alternative to a regular classroom program of instructions. This has been a common occurrence among BVH students in recent weeks because many students are missing school due to being sick.

“You have to prevent [students coming to school sick], so everybody can stay on campus and in-person learning because most everybody wants to continue doing that,” Currin said. 

After the pandemic and returning to school, students have to be wary of respiratory disease and illness. Due to this, many students miss school for multiple days in a row. The rate of attendance in 2021-2022 has gone down by 8.1%, so in between 88.9% to 90% of students go to school.

“Most schools before COVID-19 had an attendance rate between 97 to 99% because we told students, if you don’t have a fever come on down, even if you’re coughing, even if you’re sneezing,” Gutierrez said. “Now the message is, ‘If you feel sick at all, stay home. If you’re coming back [from being sick], make sure you wear a mask, so you don’t get anyone sick.’”

By saying this, students will be staying at home more often, which will protect their health and the health of other students and staff. Though staying home helps students, the unexcused absences affect the schools budget and funding. 

“The challenge for us is, we lose funding right now, we don’t know what this is going to do but the bigger challenge is how we can support students when they’re absent. That’s a challenge,” Gutierrez said.