School board discusses attendance

By Eric Butler: PNT Staff Writer

Portales school administrators were keenly following district attendance numbers on Tuesday, which also happened to be the day for the school board meeting.

The reason: The day marked the 40th of the current school year and it’s one of the benchmarks (along with the 80th and 120th) determining the amount of money the school system gets from the state.

Superintendent Randy Fowler told board members the number increased from 2927 students to 2931 from morning to the end of the day.

Besides the increase of four students in one day, the Portales school district is up from 2799 at the 40th day during the 2008-09 school year.

Fowler said while the district had modest growth throughout, Brown Elementary and the high school had the biggest increases.

He also reported the number of students enrolled in pre-kindergarten — which does not count in the overall district figures — jumped from 85 to 110 the past year.

Another set of figures the Portales superintendent addressed was the amount of sickness over the past week.

According to Fowler, although the rate of sicknesses decreased at the junior high and high school since early last week, the overall absence rate for the school district for the week past was at 20 percent.

“That’s pretty high, but not high enough to close the schools,” Fowler said. “We will not close schools in Portales unless it’s impractical to keep them open. We will continue to have school for those who are not sick.”

Helen Clabaugh, head nurse for the school district, said the New Mexico Department of Health distributed seasonal flu mist treatments and 70 doses were administered at Steiner Elementary.

As for the H1N1 strain of flu, Clabaugh stressed for parents to treat it like the regular seasonal flu. Fowler urged for parents not to send their children back to school until 24 hours had passed since accompanying fever, if any, had subsided.

As for the possibility of receiving H1N1 vaccine, Clabaugh said, “I don’t know whether we’ll get any of that.”

Fowler said he had a discussion with Department of Health officials earlier in the day and was told November might be the soonest the district might be able to get a shipment of H1N1 vaccine.

“We’re through one wave and it’s getting better,” Fowler said.