Why The Long Line? The Problem With MBHS Attendance

By Claire Wilson

October 10, 2023

If you’ve been tardy this year, you’ve probably noticed the attendance line has grown significantly longer than in years past. Whereas last year a few students at a time trickled into the attendance office throughout the morning, this year there is a line out the door. What caused this change? And more importantly, what can be done about it?

This year, tardies are being recorded directly through Aeries, instead of last year’s system. Before this year, it only took MBHS attendance secretary, Sandi Daly, two clicks to mark a student tardy, and a few more seconds to print them a slip. This year, Daly says, “It takes me about thirteen clicks if I don’t mess up. And the processing of getting it to print is much longer.” Instead of the small white slips, tardies are now being printed on a full sheet of printer paper. Costwise, the old slips are a little more expensive, but far less wasteful. Daly reports, “I’ve gone through so many reams of paper. Normally I go through a ream of paper every couple of months and I’ve been going through about a ream of paper a week.” 

The switch to the Aeries system came about last year, when a substitute for Daly, with no attendance office experience, suggested it to school administration as a way to streamline the attendance process. When Daly got back to school, the new process had been implemented without anyone first assessing the difference between the old method versus Aeries. 

The result? “I’ve got a line of forty kids out the door. It takes a good half hour or more to get everybody through” says Daly, “They’re missing the first forty minutes of class easily, when before they would have been a few minutes late.” Getting to class thirty to forty minutes late is not only incredibly unfair to the tardy student, but is also disruptive to teachers and distracting for other students.

Daly explains that administrators had hoped that the long lines would act as a deterrent to students being tardy, but this has not been the case at all. Instead, many students just come later to avoid the line. She says, “I haven’t really noticed a decline in numbers. Now they’re just coming in late because they know ‘well if I come in two minutes late I’m going to be a half hour late so I might as well just go to Dolly’s and get some treats.’” 

This is an issue administration is aware of, so why haven’t they reverted back to the old system? Wallace explains, “[the old system] didn’t provide the exact information we needed as well, the timestamp of when students arrived.” But now if a student arrives two minutes late to school, they have to stand in a line and end up being marked tardy much later. Because the lines are so long some mornings, campus security Marvin Pech resorts to writing down names so students can get to class sooner. Without an exact time, students are all marked tardy at the same approximate timestamp, which completely defeats the purpose of the new system. When asked about this, assistant principal Will Wallace responded, “I think he could write down the exact time stamp as well. I don’t know if that’s what he’s doing. I don’t know what he did today.” 

Thankfully, administration is looking at potential alternatives to the current system. Daly mentions some of the ideas being floated around; a keypad system in which a student would type in a student number, or a student ID card scan, which would likely be the most time efficient method. But why can’t a student simply go to class and be marked absent by their teacher? Daly points back to the timestamp reason and its clear impracticality, “The goal is to get kids educated, and to spend ten minutes making them walk all the way back here just to get a paper…” she shakes her head. 

Assistant principal, Will Wallace, explains that administration has noticed the issue and is working to“refine the system.” He says, “Where we’re at now is kind of a hybrid system. We’ve procured keypads so students can just enter their ID.” The keypad system seems like an easy way to make the system more efficient, but in reality, it only saves Daly a single click, and if a student doesn’t know their number, she has to type their name manually. 

Wallace reports, “One of the most notable changes is the line is just much shorter, kids are getting here in a more timely way which is a huge benefit too.” But are more students really getting to school on time? On the same morning of my interview with Wallace, there were forty two tardies, and according to Daly, numbers have not changed significantly this year. 

This is a complicated issue, with apparently no clear-cut solution. Prioritizing the timestamp of a student’s tardy over getting them to class at a timely manner is unfair to both students and teachers, especially when timestamps are sometimes only estimates. This new system is unsustainable, wasteful, unfair to students, and disruptive to teachers. Until administration can decide on a new method, students will continue to line up and wait for a slip, and class will continue on without them.