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Average Manatee County Title I attendance up at start of school year

BRADENTON -- With dedicated employees watching out for students who may be veering off into the "chronic absent" zone, Manatee County School District average daily attendance was up slightly over the first 30 days of school.

Graduation enhancement technicians were hired to work in the 25 Title I district schools for the 2015-16 school year. GETs are funded by Title I grants.

Average daily attendance is up 0.52 percent in Title I schools when comparing the first 30 days for the 2014-15 school year with this year.

"We are up a tick, just a tick," said Elena Garcia, district director of federal grants and programs.

Most chronic absences are with students in pre-k, kindergarten and first grade.

"We were not anticipating that," Garcia said.

According to Garcia, top reasons for missing school are illness, doctor appointment, traffic and transportation, lice and suspensions.

So far, the biggest attendance gains have been in Title I charter schools -- Visible Men Academy, Just for Girls Academy, Oasis, Team Success and Manatee Charter -- and at Bayshore High, a Title I high school.

Garcia is working with other district officials on solutions for the problems creating student absences. They are also implementing newer software to better track data on chronic absenteeism since average daily attendance isn't the best measure, Garcia said.

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.