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Harford school attendance down in final week, but not by much

William Paca Elementary School students wave to their teachers lined up on the sidewalk as their bus rolls out on the last day of school June 19.
William Paca Elementary School students wave to their teachers lined up on the sidewalk as their bus rolls out on the last day of school June 19.(MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun)

Although Harford County Public Schools students had to attend classes past the middle of June, attendance in the final week of school between Monday, June 15, and Friday, June 19, wasn't much lower than it is any other week during the year.

Elementary school absenteeism averaged about 6 percent during the final week of the 2014-15 school year, while average daily absenteeism at middle schools averaged 6.3 percent, according to daily attendance figures provided by the school system.

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Not surprisingly, the greatest number of absences occurred on the final day of classes on June 19, when students in all grades were dismissed two hours early.

There were 7 percent of elementary and 11 percent of middle school students absent on the final day, according to the HCPS reports.

HCPS typically has an average daily absentee rate of 5 percent, Jillian Lader, HCPS manager of communications, said.

Back when the 2014-15 school year calendar was set in early 2014, classes were expected to end on Tuesday, June 9, provided an excess of days were not missed for inclement weather. Eleven snow days were built into the calendar – four days during the school year that could be possible make-ups (one that wasn't used) and seven snow days added onto the school year from June 10 to 19. Parents are advised by HCPS not to plan vacations or other activities with the assumption there wouldn't be school on those days.

HCPS ended up missing 10 days during the school year for snow, ice or cold, so the eight days at the end of the calendar were used up quickly. Other make up days took two days from the six-day spring break in April.

The school system requested waivers for five of the missed days from the 180-day state attendance requirement; however, the request was rejected by the state superintendent of schools. Had the waivers been granted, classes could have ended a week earlier on June 12.

During the final week, there were 1,171.5 elementary absences on June 15, 908 on June 16, 931 on June 17, 104.5 on June 18 and 1,210.5 on June 19. Elementary enrollment was 17,260 students.

There were 667 middle school students absent on June 15, 517 on June 16, 688 on June 17, 782.5 on June 18 and 903.5 on June 19. Total middle school enrollment was 8,381.

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High school attendance the final week of the year can't be reported on a percentage basis, because the HCPS reports are based on total enrollment at each of the 10 high schools and don't take into account that classes for this year's 12th grade students ended in late May and those students were no longer enrolled.

Based on reported absences for each day, however, there were 646.5 high school students absent on June 15, 401.5 on June 16, 494 on June 17, 595 on June 18 and 1,294 the final day.

Individual elementary schools that chalked up the most absences by percentage on the last day of school were Magnolia, 16.2 percent; Edgewood, 15 percent; George D. Lisby at Hillsdale, 11.5 percent; Riverside, 12.7 percent; Paca/Old Post Road, 12.6; Deerfield, 10.5 percent; and Havre de Grace, 10.1 percent.

Individual middle schools with the most absences by percentage on the last day were Aberdeen, 15.5 percent; Magnolia, 15 percent; Havre de Grace, 14 percent; Edgewood, 12.2 percent; and North Harford, 11.4 percent.

Joppatowne High had the most students absent on the final day with 264.5, followed by Havre de Grace with 208, Edgewood with 136.5 and Patterson Mill with 185.

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