Tackling truancy issues. The city of Aledo is considering an ordinance that would crack down on unexcused absences from the classroom. It's not uncommon for some areas to have the city enforce it, but it can mean some hefty fines for kids and parents.
Mercer County School Superintendent Alan Boucher says making sure students are actually in the classroom on a daily basis is a top priority for school districts. "It really impacts things like test scores and achievement, but also it's a financial consideration because our state funding is based on the number of days students attend school."
Last year, superintendent Boucher says the average high school student in the Mercer County district missed 10 school days. That's not a drastic increase from years previous but, even so, truancy is getting some attention with a possible ordinance in Aledo.
"Truancy ordinances have been around for quite a while. Aledo didn't have one so we thought it'd be a good opportunity to look at it and maybe bring it forward as a tool to use for some extreme cases," said Aledo Police Chief J. Michael Sponsler.
If approved, five or more unexcused absences could land a student with a fine between $25 and $750. Parents could also face penalties of between $100 and $750.
The ordinance is similar to other area communities like Moline, Rock Island, and Galesburg, where first offense fines are between $25 and $75. For cities that do not have a hand in enforcing truancy, like Bettendorf, truancy penalties are usually handled within the school district.
The ordinance in Aledo would apply to only schools within city limits. The Aledo city council will have a second reading on its truancy ordinance on February 19th.