HOUSTON, Texas — Texas schools are funded based on daily attendance. So you don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that missing students means missed opportunities.
But officials say the impact is far from just financial for districts.
"Our students, in this society today, need at least a high school diploma,” said HISD Superintendent Millard House II during the district's annual "Grads Within Reach" walk last weekend.
House and others literally knocked on doors.
"And our whole focus is to encourage them to come back with no judgment," said House. "No punitive focus or nature to ensure that they get what they need.”
On the first day of this school year, there were more than 5700 fewer students in HISD compared to last year.
The state’s largest district has seen enrollment drop by more than 15,000 since before the pandemic.
"And so we want to make sure that our students are having a fighting chance," said Asia Duhon-Guillory with HISD's dropout prevention and recovery division. "And a way to do that is to knock on doors, make calls, do whatever we need to do."
Not all of the losses are attributed to dropouts, as many families may have moved, even to other Houston-area school districts.
The district checks with others in our area to ensure missing students are enrolled somewhere.
"Even if it's not in HISD," said Duhon-Guillory. "We want them in school and we want them to graduate."