In Partnership with 74

King’s first priority for a new LA Unified task force is chronic absenteeism. We break it down for you

Sarah Favot | July 19, 2017

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Business, philanthropic and community leaders have formed a new task force to work with LA Unified Superintendent Michelle King and its first undertaking will be to tackle chronic absenteeism, the Los Angeles Times reported.

LA School Report reported last month that budget documents showed the number of students who were chronically absent — missing 16 or more days of school in 2015-16 — grew by 1 percent costing the district an additional $45 million in state funding.

This decline occurred even as the district has tried to increase student attendance. The efforts are driven in large part by finances. State funding is tied to daily attendance. One of the recommendations made by a blue ribbon commission on the district’s finances in 2015 was to improve attendance as daily attendance is the biggest factor in district revenues.

About 14 percent of LA Unified students were chronically absent, which meant the district lost out on $630 million in potential funding last year.

The district’s chronic absence rate for the school year that ended in June will not be calculated until later this summer, officials said.

The outside group will be led by Austin Beutner, former investment banker and former LA Times publisher who also served as deputy mayor under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. It will be called the LA Unified Advisory Task Force and will also consist of labor leaders, philanthropists, and business leaders, the LA Times reported.

The task force will review district operations, but King told the Times its first priority will be improving student attendance.

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