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Absenteeism a concern at HVRHS

FALLS VILLAGE — The Region One Board of Education held its first monthly meeting (online) of the 2022-2023 school year Monday, Sept. 12.

HVRHS Assistant Principal Steve Schibi gave a report on how the school plans to tackle a recent attendance issue.

Chronic absenteeism, defined as being 10% or more days absent from the school year, has risen in the last two years. While the trend across the state is about 25%, HVRHS has a chronic absenteeism rate of 27.5%.

Schibi explained how the school plans to use technology, such as apps Remind and PowerSchool, to better keep track of and assist students trending to chronic absenteeism. In addition, they will implement a tiered system of support for students, including monthly meetings by an Attendance Committee. Should a student be absent enough to be considered truant, they will be referred to the Juvenile Review Board.

HVRHS Principal Ian Strever reported on the opening of the school’s 84th year.

Enrollment is at 325 (official enrollment is calculated as of Oct. 1.). There are 81 seniors. Strever said the figures represent a 6% decrease from last year, but a 7% increase in students retained from 8th grade.

The board also discussed new hirings and resignations. Two resignations were accepted, those of Audra Leach of the Housatonic Valley Regional High School Agriculture Education department and Christine Caserto of Pupil Services at Sharon. They will be replaced by Sheri Lloyd and Kaitlyn Palumbo, respectively. The board also approved the hiring of Amanda Richard for Pupil Services for pre-K at North Canaan.

Assistant Superintendent Jeanine Rose reported that hirings this year across the region total 31, up from 20 last year. There are still three open positions, two for Spanish and one for School Counselor. There continues to be a need for substitute teachers across the region.

Superintendent Lisa Carter reported that overall enrollment within the region has declined, due to several factors. These include families moving back to cities as COVID wanes, while also seeking a lower cost of living and pursuing diverse job opportunities. Carter plans to work with the board and school administrators to increase enrollment through continued improvement to the region’s academic and staff quality.

Carter reported thatCOVID-19 monitoring continues under new protocols, which were sent to parents and staff in mid August.  Region One schools received test kits on Sept. 2, which can be distributed to families by via each school’s nurse. Vaccination sites for the new Omicron booster are also in the works, and communications will be sent when they are prepared.

Student Representative Margot Minton reported a smooth start and that a student government meeting will be held next week that will include elections and planning for school events. “It’s nice that we’re finally back to somewhat normal.”

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