Dear Educators:John Welch, Superintendent and Secretary to the Board

During the month of November, we celebrate and honor the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and acknowledge the important contributions of Native people, and as we give thanks to our Veterans both past and present and their families for their service and sacrifice, I find it a good time to pause and reflect on the work we do as an educational service agency in our region.

The work we do every day, educating students and supporting families, is so important. At PSESD our daily work is driven by our END; to ensure success for each child and eliminate the opportunity gap, which is very much aligned to the work being done in the early learning centers, schools, colleges and universities in our region.

For some families, with the long holiday weekends approaching, two this month: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving and Winter Break just around the corner, the temptation is to tack on extra day, two days or even three to a school closure day for a family vacation or travel is very real. But the impact on children of families who miss school for vacation (or for any reason beyond illness or true emergencies) and their classmates has serious consequences.

Absences add up more quickly than you realize, given that just two days a month can mean 18 absences a year. And while we know that chronic absenteeism follows poverty wherever it is found in significant concentrations, it can also be found in more affluent communities as well.

So this year we encourage you to join us in helping raise awareness about absenteeism and the lasting and damaging impact it can have on all children. Talk to parents, guardians and families now, and talk to them often. Provide them with real attendance data. Parents often don’t know how many days their children miss. As of last school year, more than 6.5 million students, or about 13%, missed three or more weeks of school during a single school year, which is enough time to erode their achievement and threaten their chance of graduating. September Attendance Awareness Month may be over, but our work to make Attendance a priority is not. Join us in making every student and family in Puget Sound aware that Everyday Counts, Every Student Matters.  

During this season of reflection, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your dedication and commitment to students and families in our region. I am particularly honored to be a part of our amazing team of staff members at PSESD, and I am also grateful to work with so many amazing educators and partners in our region.

John P. Welch