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Make sure students are in class regularly

It’s hard for students to learn if they are not in class.

That seems so obvious, yet each year local students are declared chronically absent — missing 10 percent or more of school days.

In Lincoln County, 21.4 percent of students were chronically absent last year. In Brookhaven, the number is 15.7. The state average is 16.9.

Lincoln County Schools Superintendent Mickey Myers said he’s disappointed at the high rate of chronic absenteeism.

“We’ve got to keep stressing to the parents the importance of school,” Myers said. “There’s a direct correlation between attendance and achievement.”

Sometimes, there is a valid reason for chronic absenteeism — serious illness. But sometimes, the problem lies with parents or grandparents or caregivers. It is their responsibility to ensure their children are in school.

The research on the effects of absenteeism is eye-opening. Poor attendance can influence whether children read proficiently by the end of third grade or be held back. By sixth grade, chronic absence becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

Students who live in communities with high levels of poverty are four times more likely to be chronically absent than others often for reasons beyond their control.

Both local school districts have attendance officers, and state law requires students to be in class. Children who are age 6 or not yet 17 by Sept. 1 must be registered for school, or the parent or guardian will face penalties.

Parents who plan to home-school their children must complete a certificate of enrollment and give it to the school attendance officer for their school district by Sept. 15.

Failure to comply with the school attendance law is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, jail or both.

If you are responsible for a school-aged child, get him/her to class each and every day. Their future success depends upon it.