Glens Falls officials seek to reduce rate of chronic school absences

Glens Falls school officials try to combat absenteeism

Glens Falls school officials try to combat absenteeism

More than one-quarter of the students in the Glens Falls City School District missed more than 18 days of school in the 2022-2023 school year.

A total of 26% are classified as “chronically absent,” and are at risk of falling behind. Community members and organizations gathered at the Crandall Public Library on Monday to discuss strategies keep people in school.

Kristy Moore, director of multi-tiered systems of support for the district, said having students complete their high school diploma and go on to further education or learning a trade is essential for society.

“When students are not in school, they’re typically not making good choices in the community,” she said.

There could be a variety of reasons why students are missing school, according to Moore. A national organization called Attendance Works has been studying these trends found that issues include lack of transportation, instability in housing, disengagement and boredom.

The issue can affect other students who are not missing school, according to Moore.

“Having that level of chronic absenteeism impacts the teacher’s ability to provide instruction to the class as a whole,” she said.

Glens Falls is not alone in dealing with absenteeism, according to Moore. Its rate is on par with the national average, which has doubled in the last few years.

Moore said the district’s goal is to reduce the chronic absenteeism rate to 21% in two years.

The purpose of Monday’s meeting was to bring together various resources to address the problem.

“We want to make sure each of us knows what’s available, along with seeing what needs may exist that we can help to fill,” she said. 

Moore cited some strategies that the district has undertaken include having behavioral counselors hired by the county by based in the school. That is in addition to the district’s own counselors. The district also has two crisis intervention specialists.

“There is no single story to chronic absenteeism. There’s a lot of different reasons. That’s why we have a lot of different inventions in place,” she said.

The presentation was part of a partnership between the district and the American Association of University Women.

Connie Bosse, of AAUW, said the organization wanted to partner with the school to host this forum.

“It’s all about getting the community engaged on solutions to get the students in schools,” he said. 

Organizations that attended the event include Cornell Cooperative Extension, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Southern Adirondacks, Family Service Association of Glens Falls, Warren County Department of Social Services, Adirondack Health Institute, Glens Falls City School District Backpack Program, Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley, BHSN (Behavioral Health Services North), Glens Falls Police Department, Mediation Matters, Crandall Library, Tri-County United Way, Catholic Charities, Queensbury Union Free School District, Well Child, SAIL (Southern Adirondack Independent Living) and Hudson Headwaters Health Network.

Mayor Bill Collins said the city is fortunate that a lot of resources exist in the community.

“We’re very lucky, but we need to collaborate together and make sure we’re meeting the needs of students,” he said.