Featured Story

Shelter Island School absentee numbers below state averages

Since the COVID pandemic hit its stride in the late winter of 2020, chronic absenteeism has been a factor in many school districts, Shelter Island School Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., said.

As the pandemic has waned, numbers have improved, but the district continues to take active steps to improve its attendance rates.

Statistics released by the New York State Education Department for the district revealed:

• The chronic absentee rate for 2021-22 was at 25.32%.

• The chronic absentee rate for 2022-23 was 20.65%.

• That showed a reduction of the problem for the period from 2021 through 2023 had dropped by 4.65%.

“I am obviously happy to see our number shrink from the last year to the most current year,” Mr. Doelger said.

For 2023, at the elementary level, he said the district’s chronic absentee rate was at 22.9%, lower than the state average of 26.4% , he said.

At the secondary level for 2023, again, the Island’s chronic absentee rate for the district is “significantly lower” at 16.9% compared with the state average of 34.1%.

“There is a big focus, especially on the secondary level, with our academic policy,” Mr. Doelger said. “At certain benchmarks, students and parents are called in if excessive absences become too much.”

He also noted a student can be denied credit for a class if absences are deemed to be too many.

The superintendent also noted that the student enrollment the state reported for the district in the 2022-23 school year failed to include students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.

The state reported enrollment at 155 students. School enrollment for that year was 183. Enrollment for the current school year is up by nine at 192.