Saturday, September 04, 1999

Suspensions could cost district

Enrollment determines aid

Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — Educators are wrestling with changes in a policy on suspension that might help the district avoid losing state funds.

        Schools are no longer allowed to count suspended students as enrolled in the district if they aren't in class the first week in October — the week the state takes the official enrollment count. The count is used to determine how much state aid schools receive for the year.

        Administrators brought board members a proposal Thursday that would allow suspended students to receive school assignments. Providing students some minimal services, such as assignments, would allow the district to count the child, Superintendent Charles Wiedenmann said.

        The policy does not guarantee that students will be given credit for the time they have missed, Mr. Wiedenmann said. That decision is left up to individual teachers.

        “You might make up all your work but not get credit,” Mr. Wiedenmann said.

        And that's what bothers some members of the Fairfield Board of Education who reviewed, but took no action, on the proposal.

        “I have a major problem with this,” said board member Ben Hubbard, a former high school principal. “One teacher may give credit but another won't. A child may have four teachers, but what if only two give credit? Or if two are suspended and one gets credit but the other doesn't? Personally, I don't think they should get credit.”

        Mr. Wiedenmann said the policy change would make for malwhat's already happening in the district. Teachers decidewhether to allow credit for missed assignments. In all cases, assignments are given only if the student or family requests them during suspension.

        “So far it hasn't been a problem,” Mr. Wiedenmann said.

        Still, tens of thousands of dollars could be at stake. The district could lose up to $2,100 in state aid per student. Last year, there were 22 students suspended during the official count, although a precise amount of loss was not available.

        The only way to avoid the situation is to have a policy forbidding school suspensions during the first week in October when official enrollment counts are taken, Mr. Wiedenmann said.

        Mr. Wiedenmann said he would bring up the board's concerns at an administrators' meeting before bringing it back to the board on Sept. 16.


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