Looking Ahead

By: Neil Mufson
Plans and changes for the 2017-2018 school year from Mr. Mufson.
As we wrap up 2016-17, I want to look ahead to 2017-18 and a significant problem I hope all families will do their part to eliminate if it applies to them: excessive tardiness and absences. As of last week, 63 Lower School students and 44 Upper School students have been tardy more than 10 times this year. That’s 37% of our students. 
Clearly these figures are excessive and start many students’ days in a negative way that also interrupts the class routines of those arriving on time. More than occasional tardiness also conveys poor lessons to our children about respect, the importance of school, and the importance of meeting commitments in a timely way. It does your child considerable disservice to allow these poor habits to form. 
In addition, 22 Lower School students and 20 Upper School students (15% of the school) have been absent more than 10 days. Yes, flu was bad this year, but none of these students’ parents informed us that their child was suffering from a chronic or serial illness more serious than that.
Everyone is apt to be late or absent once in a while. But that is not what is going on here.
Next year, this has to change. For one thing, as I announced earlier in the year, school will be starting 5 minutes earlier beginning in 2017-18. Students will have to be in their classrooms by 8:10.  Doors will open at 7:45 and the first bell will ring at 8:00, when students may go to their classes.  
Also, while I suspect many of these tardies and absences are not the fault of students but instead of their parents, we will be implementing a series of consequences for students who rack up an excessive number of tardies and absences. We are also forced to put in place policies for excessive absences that are not excused by a doctor’s note. In fact, Maryland law defines truancy as 20 days of absence not excused by a documented illness. Our steps will be announced when we release next year’s class lists and directories.
I hate to end what has been a great year by pointing out this problem. But only by being made aware of the magnitude of the problem can we work together to correct it. The good news is that at least 63% of parents are doing the right thing and making sure their child is consistently in class on time, ready to learn. See you back at school the day after Labor Day, no later than 8:10! In the meantime, I hope all of our children and families have a wonderful, memorable, and safe summer.

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