McCOOK, Nebraska -- State legislators and the McCook Public School system are taking school attendance more seriously.
A new school policy approved by the McCook School Board Monday night at its regular meeting will allow five excused or unexcused absences per quarter (nine weeks), instead of the previous seven days.
The amended policy reflects new state statute, said MPS Superintendent Grant Norgaard.
In discussing the change, Norgaard said that research has shown that a student who misses more that 20 school days fares more poorly academically.
If a student accumulates a total of five excused or unexcused absences per quarter, attendance officers Jeff Gross, Darin Nichols, DARE Officer John Smith and building principals will notify the parents by letter.
The policy is in place to counteract abuse of the system, said Nichols.
According to the policy, if a student is absent for 20 or more days during the year, the county attorney is notified.
Other policies that the board amended or approved Monday night, to reflect state law, included:
* amended a policy concerning excused absences, that will require activities and athletic sponsors to notify the school office when students will not be attending school for a school-related event. This is already being done but the language will now be included in the policy, Norgaard said.
* approved a new policy on concussion awareness. This, too is already being implemented, Norgaard said, by making coaches, parents and athletes aware of the symptoms of a concussion.
* approved a new policy regarding citizenship. This policy is to promote patriotism, Norgaard said, and is already being done in various ways. Students in McCook Schools already recite the Pledge of Allegiance during class, including at the high school during third period.
* amend the policy about conflict of interest. The amended policy clarifies language and gives clear guidance for school board members on voting issues that may occur, Norgaard said, based on recent legal action in other school districts.
The board also approved several other items Monday night, including:
* the $750 donation from Wells Fargo Foundation, that will go to Student Council for their leadership banquet;
* to surplus one commercial stove/oven from the former National Guard Armory'
* expenditures and payroll for October