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What is the cost of a school absence?

Zoë Evans-Agnew

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The front office where students report after being absent or tardy. Photo by Zoë Evans-Agnew

What is the real cost of sleeping in late? Of leaving early to catch a concert? How much do these absences cost students?

The annual tuition to attend Bellarmine for the 2016-2017 school year is, $14,367. There are 177 schools days in the year. For each school day, there are four classes. This means that students have the opportunity to attend 708 classes at Bellarmine. To find the actual cost per class, divide the annual tuition with the annual amount of classes. The cost of an absence in class is $20.31.

That is $81.24 per day.

Thirty-seven percent of students receive some form of financial aid, so they are not spending quite as much per class, although they are still contributing a significant investment. This monetary amount does not account for the time students spend at numerous other programs Bellarmine offers, from athletics to robotics to theatre, and the effort that is invested in students during these programs. These hard numbers account not just for class time but for the quality of instruction, the holistic learning experience and the community Bellarmine offers.

Despite the wonderful opportunities Bellarmine provides, this hefty figure still remains important. The year alone, on an average day, 30 students miss class. This number is expected to rise as flu season arrives, and should average around 50 by the end of the year. Many students have to miss class for doctor’s appointments, and family emergencies, but sometimes students chose to skip.

The monetary cost of absences is only one side of the equation. The other side concerns the amount of learning students miss out on when they do not attend class.

Missing one day can amount to late work for an entire week, with students struggling in RASH everyday to finish tests and class work. Often, these absences are unavoidable and students fall behind due to uncontrollable circumstances. However, when students miss class simply because they want to, it causes them unneeded stress.

English teacher, Daniel O’Connor, thinks that absences significantly harm students’ learning because they can not recreate discussions about a text in an online format or with notes. “When it comes to an English class, there is so much about what we do that is a dynamic and interactive experience.” He said that English classes require face-to-face discussion and analysis, and absences prevent this type of deep learning.

O’Connor said that when students return to school after an absence, “Not only do they miss out on the experience of the class but I think students also feel an added burden because they feel like they are missing out.” He added, “There is not an easy way to recapture the experience other students have had.”

With the expense of each class, teachers have the responsibility to make class worthwhile. Instead of meaningless busywork, teachers must make the effort to engage students for the whole 80 minutes. Families are spending upwards of 20 dollars per class and teachers should make students time worthwhile.

Allie Smith, junior, said that, “It’s important to attend class because each class period is essential to students succeeding in the overall class.” She said that when she misses class she is not able to fully grasp concepts, especially when it comes to math.

Absences cost students more than just lost class time. They cost families $20.31 per class and prevent students from experiencing all that Bellarmine has to offer. Teachers have to make class worthwhile and students have to show up and actively participate in the discussion.

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What is the cost of a school absence?