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County moves on truancy

On the Thayer County Commissioners’ agenda Dec. 5 was time to review and approve an application for a community-based grant for juvenile services to address truancy for the 2019-2020 school year.
The commissioners had Casey Thieman from the Seward County Attorney’s Office on a conference call while they went through the application, which provides for an Attendance Support Case Manager. Thieman is one of the developers of the program, which has been adopted in several counties.
The grant application was approved for submission to the Nebraska Crime Commission. A budget summary lists the total cost of the program at $17,782 and $16,004 requested with a $1,778 match.
The case manager position is funded through 10 percent of a Seward County grant; 20 percent of a Jefferson County grant; 10 percent of a Jefferson County community-based enhancement grant; 15 percent of an interlocal agreement between counties; 40 percent of a Thayer County grant; and five percent of a juvenile services grant.
The support program reviewed the graduation rates in Thayer County as 94.74 percent for Thayer Central; 100 percent for Deshler; and and 93.75 for Bruning-Davenport.
On attendance, Thayer Central recorded 95.81 percent; Deshler, 96.09 percent; and Bruning-Davenport, 95.72 percent.
In 2016, the Nebraska Risk and Protective Factors Survey recorded 43.9 percent of seniors said learning was important to their futures, and 28.1 percent enjoyed being in school.
To reduce truancy, schools must address specific factors impeding attendance such as, parental involvement and meaningful sanctions or consequences for truancy, which is included in the attendance support program.
This year, the schools began the program in August and as of Dec. 1, had 30 referrals. One of the 30 referrals enrolled in school. The program serves youth from ages 12 to 18.
“This action to develop a comprehensive one and three year plan for juvenile services was instituted in the spring of 2018 at meetings between the three Thayer County schools and myself with organizations that had developed programs to deal with attendance issues in other counties,” Thayer County Attorney Dan Werner said. Werner has pressed charges against at least one parent in the past for attendance issues.
Werner agreed to use $6,000 of unused funds from his county budget to kick-start the program locally, the schools provided $4,000, and the commissioners made another $1,000 available.
Thayer County entered into an agreement with Jefferson County to provide the attendance program via an interlocal cooperation agreement.
The program involves students and their parents, parenting classes, setting goals and available resources.

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