Archive for Thursday, May 24, 2007

County seeks funding for truancy program

May 24, 2007

School districts in Leavenworth County will be asked to share the cost of a highly successful program that's now partly funded with a grant to the county's Department of Juvenile Services.

County commissioners on Thursday agreed to draft a letter to superintendents of Leavenworth County school districts requesting cost sharing in the county's Truancy Reduction Program after federal grant funding dries up in 2008.

The program, which targets delinquent students before they are legally truant after seven unexcused absences, is currently funded under a three-year, Title V grant, with funds being matched by the county.

Bob Doyle, Juvenile Services director, said the program has been overwhelmingly successful.

Of the 252 cases thus far, only 17 students have failed the program or refused it, Doyle said. Homework completion has gone up for 97 percent of all clients on the program while absences and tardiness dropped drastically, he said.

First Judicial District Judge Robert Bednar, in a letter to commissioners, commended the program as an extremely cost-effective tool for reducing truancy.

"I would hate to see Leavenworth take a step back to where it was nine years ago when I first took the bench and began hearing truancy cases," Bednar said.

Previously, students were referred to the Juvenile Detention Center's truancy only after they became truant.

"This program is more preventative than punitive," Doyle said. "It's a student prevention advocate program for students and their families - and I think it's valid enough to be carried on."

In the program's first year and a half, the county has contributed $68,000 in cash or matching funds to the program. The program serves Lansing, Basehor-Linwood, Tonganoxie and Easton school districts. Leavenworth schools have a truancy program of their own.

Lansing Superintendent Randal Bagby said he'd await the letter.

"No definitive decisions have been made regarding this topic," Bagby wrote in an e-mail. "It's something that we will look at eventually, but not for a while."

In other business Thursday, the commission:

¢ Voted, 3-0, to donate some surplus kitchen supplies leftover from when the County Infirmary closed last year to the Heritage Center in downtown Leavenworth.

All remaining items, ranging from beds and stoves to a heavy-duty safe and commercial washers and dryers, are to be auctioned in late June.

¢ Unanimously approved a proposal from Council on Aging director Linda Lobb for a Homemaker Program. The cleaning service will assist area seniors who are unable to clean and do certain household chores themselves.

Seniors between 60 and 70 years old would need a doctor's note that establishes them as disabled for at least one month to be eligible for the service. For those over 70, no disability statement would be necessary, Lobb said.

She said the cost of the program would be $12.50 per hour, and it would begin sometime early next year.

¢ Considered formulating a single policy for compensating county employees who seek resources for continuing their education to improve work-related skills.

¢ Voted unanimously to renew Planning and Zoning Director Chris Dunn's contract under exempt status at a yearly salary of $69,003.

¢ Voted, 3-0, to continue to use Seminole Energy Services, of Tulsa, Okla., for gas service in the county.

¢ Met 15 minutes in executive session discuss litigation.

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