Rochester City School District superintendent wants 95% attendance on day one

Updated: 08/27/2014 6:28 PM
Created: 08/27/2014 5:23 PM WHEC.com

Do you want to know why test scores are so low in the city schools? Here's why -- almost half of the children in kindergarten to third grade were chronically absent last year. That means they missed more than 10-percent of school days and that's why the superintendent has thrown down the gauntlet on attendance for the first day of school.

The superintendent likes to say his kids don't drop out of high school in 12th grade…they drop out in the third grade. That's when they start getting behind. That's why he wants 95-percent attendance in elementary schools on the first day of school and that number is unheard of.

That means children like Marnaygah Ackey need to be in class on day one. She's got a good start. Her mom was taking her to her school for orientation today.

Berkeley Brean: “Whose responsibility is that to have children show up to school?”
Parent Emerald Timmons: It’s the parents and the children as well. They should know it's a big part of their goal to finish school and they know they have to be up and ready to go as well.”

Showing up to school should be easy but it isn't. Sometimes families in the City face problems you can't imagine, like single mothers with several children.

Jerome Underwood of Youth Development Family Services in the city school district said, “Their main priority is not getting their child to school the next day because we're facing eviction next Friday or there's mental abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse.”

The District is trying to get those families to understand that education is the way out. Underwood said, “We know that every minute in school absolutely matters.”

The future of high school success in the City starts right here, on the first day of the first years in school.

Timmons said, “I can't say what I want her to do because there were a lot of things my mother wanted me to do but I didn't turn out to be what she wanted me to be. But whatever she decides to do I’ll be with her 100-percent.”

Here’s an immediate problem. The District has about 300 to 400 kids enrolling right now. It’s so late that they probably won’t get on a bus list in time for the first day of school next Wednesday. So the District is asking for your help. It needs volunteers to drive these children to and from school until they get on a bus list. If you can help, please call 585-262-8378. They need drivers in the morning and afternoon.

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