EDUCATION
11/05/2012 02:29 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

San Francisco Giants Parade Cost City Schools Nearly $160,000 In Absent Students

San Francisco schools are paying a hefty price for last week's Giants World Series parade.

Among the tens of thousands who showed up to honor the World Series champions last Wednesday were about 4,100 students who likely played hooky to join in the confetti-filled citywide celebrations, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. At $38.27 granted to the district per student present in school, the absent students Wednesday cost the city's public schools $158,935 in funding from the state.

Whereas absentee rates across city schools are about 3-3.5 percent daily, 23 percent of high schoolers, 9 percent of middle schoolers and 7 percent of elementary schoolers were missing from class Wednesday. Just 44,700 of the city's 49,000 students were in school.

The absences came even after San Francisco Unified Superintendent Richard Carranza wrote a letter to parents, urging them to have their kids forego the parade in favor of school.

"There is a lot to celebrate with the Giants winning the World series and Halloween," the letter read, according to the Contra Costa Times. "Each school community is determining what works best for its students and staff to mark this momentous occasion in a safe way. Every day and every minute of instruction counts so we encourage families to make sure their child is in school and ready to learn."

Still, even school officials appeared not to heed the order. A teacher told the Contra Costa Times that she brought her school-aged children to the parade because it was a "once in a lifetime historic event" despite the Giants' World Series win two years ago.

Alex Warlen and Kelly Simms, 17-year-old seniors at Mercy High School, attended the parade with a "Buster [Posey] is the reason I'm a catcher" sign. The students said officials gave students the day off, but "we would have skipped anyway," Simms told the Associated Press.

Student attendance is a critical measure for how many school districts receive state funding. School districts in Michigan, for example, urge students to show up to school on the two "count days" each year, in which the per-pupil funding allowance determined from attendance comprise a district's largest source of revenue every year.

Absent and truant students are beginning to cost schools so much that some have started to impose strict, and sometimes unforgiving, punitive measures for those who miss school. Truancy fines proposed in Los Angeles saw significant backlash after it was revealed students could be charged $250 to $800 for being late or absent.

In perhaps one of the more extreme cases, 17-year-old honor student Diane Tran was forced to spend the night in jail in May after missing too many classes from Willis High School in Texas. The junior works both full time and part time to help support two siblings and is sometimes too tired to go to school.

Texas school districts are, by law, permitted to refer a student to juvenile court if he or she has amassed 10 or more unexcused absences within six months.

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