Friday, July 5, 2013

GSA, Student Attendance, and The School Nurse

General State Aid, Student Attendance,

 & The School Nurse

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Hopefully Helpful School Nurse Tip: How can the school nurse assist Illinois schools in collecting General State Aid? Read on for my simple explanation.

I did a lot of research at the end of the school year regarding GSA that
I want to share with you now so you have time to do your own
research before the school year starts!  

Ready? Off we go!

 "What is General State Aid?" 

General State Aid (GSA) is just as complicated as it sounds.

Basically, GSA is a % of funds (money) school districts receive from the state
based on a very detailed, complicated, secretive formula that only several people in the state of Illinois truly understand :)

After reading a lot and talking to several school administrators this is my easy-to-understand summary:

I'm pretty sure the formula involves the actual amount of minutes per day students attend school. "School" is defined as actual academic classes; passing periods and lunch periods do not count.

The state looks at each school district and takes an average of their best 3 months. Then comes up with the amount of money the school district will receive.

Remember, I'm trying to make this explanation easy & just a basic summary :)

What does mean for The School Nurse?

After learning all of this, I began to think- "How can I help my school district's attendance rate and GSA increase?" 

Familiar School Nurse's Office Scenario

Setting the Stage:  The first bell rings and at least one student walks into the nurse's office and states:

Student: "My parents told me to try and make it today, but I don't feel well and I want to go home".

Nurse:  Completes health assessment nothing alarming or potential contagious is found; student's complaints are vague. Nurse calls parents:
Parents: "I really want them to stay at school today. They were fine last night. I told them to try and make it today. What do you think?"

This is what I think... Since GSA is based on minutes, I decided to give the "try and make it" option a specific time. As long as the parent is in agreement then why not see if the student can "make it" for an actual/qualified half day of school attendance?  

In my school district a 1/2 day = 150 minutes of true academic classroom time and an actual full day = 300 minutes of true academic classroom time. See where I'm going with this?  I decided if my health assessment is within normal limits for school attendance, then I'll have students "try to make it" at least a 1/2 day & I'll give them a specific time to return if they still think they need to go home.  For easy reference, I keep the actual times written down on my desk.

What are your thoughts on GSA and The School Nurse?

  • Are you willing to do some research to see what times qualify in your district?
  • Do you think you might give "try and make it" scenarios a specific time this coming school year?

Click HERE for sample Student Attendance Reminders!