Sarasota Housing Authority lauded for improving chronic absenteeism

The Sarasota Housing Authority, along with 11 other public housing agencies nationwide, was highlighted for its work to raise awareness about the importance of school attendance by the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

The national campaign aims to get all third graders reading at grade level since studies have shown that this is a strong predictor of lifelong outcomes. SHA was commended as a bright spot for its work to inform the community about chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing more than 10 percent of a school year.

More than 6 million students are chronically absent from school, according to data from 2013-2014 released by the U.S. Department of Education. District data show that 11 percent of elementary school kids in Sarasota are chronically absent.

SHA has partnered with the School Board of Sarasota County to share student data and jointly monitor attendance records. The agency tries to get the message out to parents early, since truancy can become a lease violation. They also work with school officials to identify children who are chronically absent and work together with families to identify the causes and possible solutions.