Eye On Boise

Flu impacts Idaho schools

Idaho education officials are bracing for a raft of waiver requests from school districts that have seen student attendance suffer from the flu - and don’t want the drop in attendance to hurt their district’s state funding. Idaho bases its funding allocation to districts for the first half of the year on average daily attendance reports for the first seven weeks of school - the very time when the H1N1 flu, in many cases, has dramatically impacted school attendance. That attendance report also affects school staffing levels for the year.

“We did spike about a week ago - we had a couple schools that had up to 25 and 30 percent absentee,” said Coeur d’Alene School District Superintendent Hazel Bauman. Attendance is now back up, she said, but “it has reached that threshold … We will be submitting a request for a waiver.” So will Post Falls, Lakeland, and Meridian schools and many more. Melissa McGrath, spokeswoman for the Idaho State Department of Education, said such waiver requests normally are very rare. The department typically receives only about one a year, usually driven by an early snow day or some such unusual event. This year, however, it’s already received one request, from the South Lemhi School District in eastern Idaho (for a “significant drop in attendance as a result of the flu” for two weeks in October), and it’s heard from many more than have them in the works. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.




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