Increased enrollment doesn’t boost attendance

Winters Joint Unified School District office building (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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At the Jan. 19 Winters Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting, the board took on a number of presentations regarding updates and changes happening in the district, including a school psychologist professional development conference, changes to a technology services job title and summer school pay, as well as the most recent findings of Winters’ student attendance rates.

Chief Business Officer Jonathan Feagle presented Trustees with the attendance rates of Transitional Kindergarten through 12th-grade students in Winters over the first part of this school year, and what it will mean for the future.

Feagle explained that there are three Principal Attendance Periods. The First Principal Attendance Period (P-1) goes from the start of the school year to Dec. 31, the second (P-2) is through April 15, and then an annual period is through June 30. P-2, he notes “is the most important period for funding purposes” and that attendance in general is an important factor in the district’s level of funding. 

The total of Winters JUSD’s average daily attendance (ADA) is 1,444.80 out of a TK-12 average enrollment of 1,572, making the average attendance rate 91.9 percent. Looking at a graph of past attendance yields (a metric similar to but not exactly the attendance rate), the average yield from 2012–2019 was around 95 percent but since 2021–2022 (as the 2020–2021 school year was excluded), the yield 90.52 percent, and this year’s P-1 ADA yield is at 92.79 percent. 

Feagle noted that there are some mitigating factors for how California district ADA determine their ADAs, which affect school funding, including how Winters JUSD will determine its 2022-23 ADA based on the average of the ADAs from the past three recorded school years, which will come out to 1,478.43 for Winters, which is greater than the ADA of 1,444.80 noted above. 

Trustee Everado Zaragoza asked Feagle about the fiscal impact of this fall in rates, with Feagle saying for this year the district was safe because of the three-year average, but that next year the ADA of this year will factor into the three-year average, which, unless ADA rates are much higher next year to make the three-year average unnecessary, the district’s ADA will fall and funding will likely be impacted negatively. 

When Trustee Michael asked about any updates on hiring candidates for the Attendance Coordinator position the Board approved last year, Superintendent Rody Boonchouy said the school district was discussing reassessing the job description to get some more candidates. Boonchouy added that “there is a piece of good news in here that most districts across the state of California are envious about, and that’s our enrollment, which is trending up — but our attendance is low which is essentially wiping that out.” He noted that there were efforts being made to address this loss, as well as the fact that it’s a problem many school districts in the region are facing.

Other business
Jenny Pinedo, Director of Special Education and Student Services, briefed the Board on an opportunity for a Winters school psychologist to travel to Denver for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) annual conference where they can meet with other school psychologists and experts in the field to learn about best practices for maintaining positive and safe school environments. 

Pinedo said the main topics of the conference will include creating trauma-sensitive schools, school safety and crisis responses, positive discipline, addressing the academic needs of diverse learners, and supporting LGBTQ+ students.

Regarding the cost of the trip, Pinedo noted that “Yolo County SELPA has offered to fund travel to this conference and participation in this conference for the entire amount for school psychologists that wish to attend.” 

Human Resources Director Lisa Dennis presented a change in the title of one position and an increase in pay for summer school teachers. 

Dennis described the impetus for the title change, saying “the Coordinator of Educational and Informational Technology Services position was created in 2016 and placed on the Administrator salary schedule” but that “the scope and responsibility of this position reflect a Director level position, and that following a “review of comparable roles and titles in the district, it has been determined that the title should be Director of Technology Services.”

This change will also add the preferred qualification on the job description to include an Administrative Credential, which the position’s current occupier also has. Otherwise, Dennis said the job description will remain the same and no change in compensation will occur.

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