Chronic absenteeism, number of homeless students down in Kingsport schools

Rick Wagner • Jun 2, 2019 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Attendance was almost 95 percent and chronic absenteeism was down slightly in Kingsport City Schools for the 2018-19 academic year, while the number of students identified as homeless is down and medications administered by school nurses is up.

That’s according to a report Chief Student Services Officer Jim Nash gave the Board of Education at its May 28 work session.


In the report to the BOE, Nash said the average daily attendance was 94.5 percent, fluctuating from a high of 96.2 in August to a low of 91.5 in February, the latter of which he attributed to flu and other illnesses.

Chronic absenteeism, which occurs when a student misses 10 percent or more of school days, ended the year at 13.8 percent. The low was 10.6 percent for the first 41 days, and the high was 15.4 at 126 days.

Attendance referrals were 554, down from 591 in 2017-18, while juvenile court referrals and petitions combined were 73, up from 68 last school year. Department of Children’s Services referrals numbered 67.


Health screenings through Coordinated School Health were 2,504 for blood pressure, with 27 referred; 2,499 for body mass index, with 824 referred; 2,507 for vision, with 190 referred; and 2,734 for hearing, with 62 referred.

The program won Fuel Up to Play 60 grants to support nutrition and physical activity in schools and Farm Bureau agriculture and garden grants. A SPARK after-school program at Lincoln Elementary School got $40,000 from in-kind funding from various partners and had a pilot agricultural literacy and kids day at the Farmers Market. The program also funded social and emotional learning programs, including a portion of a Camelot counselor’s pay.


The group of students identified as homeless for the school year was 284 with another 24 siblings not in the school system. That was down from 323 and 35 for 2017-18. Nash said that school system officials believe the demolition and rebuilding of Lee Apartments and work on Cloud Apartments caused the decrease in those identified as homeless as some families temporarily shifted to other school systems.

The majority of those students, 77 percent, were identified as doubled up with family or friends because they had lost their regular home or apartment, followed by 10 percent in shelters, 10 percent in hotels and 3 percent with inadequate housing or unsheltered.

Nash said the homeless students are in every school, from a high of 51 at Dobyns-Bennett to a low of two at V.O. Dobbins/the Palmer Center. Of the homeless, he said 40 are identified as “unaccompanied youth,” meaning they did not live with a parent or legal guardian and that their living situation met the federal McKinney-Vento Act’s definition of homeless. The main services the program provided to homeless students were 139 clothing, 121 school meals and 120 school supplies.


The Family Resource Center provided services to 1,052 unduplicated students, down slightly from 1,086 in 2017-18. Schools with the higher number of FRC students were D-B EXCEL and Cora Cox Academy and Roosevelt, both at less less than 140 each.

Services provided by FRC were 57 percent food, 32 percent clothing, 9 percent hygiene, 1 percent school supplies and 1 percent other.

Nash said that Second Harvest Food Bank is cutting weekend food bags/boxes for pre-K-12 students from one a weekend to every other weekend, something he said the school system is working to replace with other resources.


As for school nursing, student visits decreased from 61,820 in 2017-18 to 55,492 in 2018-19, while the percentage of students returning to class from those visits increased from 89 percent to 96 percent. 

Nursing procedures increased from 56,054 to 63,246, and medications administered increased from 22,873 to 34,229. The percentage of medicine administered for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder increased from 63 percent to 75.2 percent, and the number of daily medications administered increased from 14,500 to 15,147.

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