Courier file photo

Ottumwa Community School District offices

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa school district is hoping to lower the rate of chronic absenteeism, a rate that suggests nearly one in six students is chronically away from school.

Chronic absenteeism is different from a student missing class due to the flu or other short-term illness. It is defined as missing more than 10 percent of all school days.

The new target that is no more than 10 percent of students will be chronically absent.

The absentee rate is tied to other goals the district is asking board members to adopt during their meeting next Monday. The district also hopes to increase the graduation rate by 3 percent, lower the number of potential drop outs by a quarter and reduce the number of failed classes by at-risk students by 50 percent.

While each goal is distinct, there is overlap among them. A student who misses class regularly may struggle to pass that class, for example.

Monday’s meeting may also begin to clarify the future of the district’s travel programs for Evans Middle School Students. Larry Northup stepped down as the program’s director earlier this week, after this year’s Great Western Expedition returned.

Proposed dates for the trips are:

Discovery 21 March 12-22, 2020.

Chicago April 4-5, 2020

St. Louis April 18-19, 2020

East Coast June 6-13, 2020

The board meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Monday at the SparkTank site, 325 E. Main St.

— Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.