Preserving Local Control of Chilhowee’s School

Earlier this week, Jared Coulter stopped by the house to see Jackie and I. He dropped in because Jared wants to serve on our school board. He had turned in his letter for consideration by Chilhowee R-4’s Board of Education and wanted to make sure that, as he put it, we ‘wouldn’t be campaigning against each other’.

Jared knew that I had done a fair amount of reporting on school districts, education and politics. He had thought that I might have an interest in filling the vacancy left by the recent resignation of Brandon Kerksieck.

After listening to Jared talk about the school district and his devotion to it, I was convinced I was looking at the right man for the job.

While Jared talked about our school and this community, earnest enthusiasm beamed from him. He has supported our kids in countless hours of service and support and is genuinely proud to call himself a member of our community and his children, Indians. The most important criteria for anyone wanting to serve on a school board is one Jared has in spades: trust.

I trust Jared Coulter to make decisions based on what is best for our children, our school and our community because these things matter to him.

In a day and age when local control of Missouri school districts is evaporating, Chilhowee is a treasure. Having school board members who understand the value of our district is critical to preserving it. I trust Jared with that responsibility and, hopefully, the board will agree with me and vote for his appointment.

Currently, in larger school districts around the state, attendance policies like this one are being put in place:

The Lebanon R-3 School District believes that regular attendance in the classroom is conducive to learning and that frequent absences of pupils from regular classes disrupt the continuity of the instructional process. The district believes that through daily attendance:
• Continuity of learning leads to improved student achievement;
• Regular school attendance that includes active and regular classroom participation leads to improved student achievement.
• A level of responsibility will develop and prepare students for adulthood and the workforce for the 21st century.
Class participation is a factor in determining student achievement. Students cannot learn if they are not present. Poor attendance may limit accomplishments and reinforce a habit, which will handicap the individual in future education or employment.
Attendance and punctuality are extremely important. Employers are interested in hiring persons with excellent work habits and attendance records; therefore, we make it our goal in the Lebanon R-3 School District to emphasize the importance of these
characteristics to our students.
Therefore, in accordance with the laws of the state of Missouri, the Lebanon R-3 School District requires the regular attendance each day that school is in session of all school age children.

Parents will to the best of their ability:
• Encourage their student to arrive on time and attend school every day.
• Instill the importance of education.
• Inform the school as soon as possible of an address or phone number change.
• Make every effort to schedule appointments for students when school is not in session (it is understood this is not always possible, but should be attempted).
• Notify school with every absence, tardy, or early withdrawal. Written notification should be turned into the student’s school office before the bell rings the next present day. (medical notes, etc)
• Absences caused by personal illness or injury, illness within the family which necessitates that a student be absent, and perhaps other extenuating circumstances, need to be communicated to the student’s school.
• Illnesses that would justify an absence from school includes, but is not limited to fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or a diagnosed staph infection.
• All vacation time should be taken while school is not in session. The school district provides a calendar each spring prior to the next school year to help families plan vacations around the days school will be in session.

All excuses will be reviewed throughout the student’s school year. Legitimate excuses do exist, but should not be abused. Being allowed 12 days of absences should be sufficient to account for normal illness, family situations, etc. Students who exceed this amount of absences could constitute further review by an outside agency such as the school social worker, the Children’s Division, Juvenile Office, or the Prosecuting Attorney.

Taken directly from page 22 of the Lebanon student handbook, not Mein Kampf, believe it or not. It’s easy to get confused, because this attendance policy sounds an awful lot like the Reich to me.

It becomes even more frightening, when you look at the Camdenton school district’s hiring of a DFS liason for its school district. This new position is now set to target ‘truancy’ by students as they deem fit.

The attendance policy crackdown that is taking place in these larger school districts will be trickling down to our own. DESE has tied student attendance to school accreditation so tightly that all schools across the state will be forced to follow this overreaching, nightmarish model. The threat of state and federal funding is a very real one for school districts and is designed to force them to comply to new policies and procedures.

It doesn’t get any more personal for us as parents and as people. We must preserve the local control of our school district. It is truly the heart of our community. Candidates willing to serve, such as Jared, are worthy of our support.

He loves our town and our kids. We truly couldn’t ask for anything more.


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