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Rochester Schools and Businesses Partner to Increase Student Attendance

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Students Challenged to Miss Fewer Than Five School Days Per Year

Signs throughout the city will feature advertisements for the Rochester Schools attendance initiative. (Courtesy Photo)

ROCHESTER — Superintendent Michael Hopkins is pleased to announce that the Rochester School District has partnered with city businesses in an effort to dramatically reduce the number of student absences.

This year, the Rochester School District is placing a renewed emphasis on ensuring that students make it to class by challenging them to miss fewer than five days over the course of the academic calendar. The district has partnered with the Believe 2 Become Foundation and joined its initiative, “Challenge Five: Strive for Less Than Five Days Absent.”

Though often overlooked, chronic absenteeism is a critical issue for educators because students who miss even two or three school days in a month are at risk to suffer tangible and lasting setbacks. Third graders could find themselves unable to master reading, sixth graders fail courses at a higher rate and high school students wind up more likely to drop out. Additionally, students from low-income backgrounds are significantly impacted by excessive absences, as missing school days severely limits their learning opportunities.

To decrease absences, school leaders have enlisted the help of local businesses to build a stronger culture of attendance, and businesses have responded by offering to promote the effort and have committed to providing incentives to students who have strong attendance records.

Over 40 area businesses have contributed to the Challenge 5 program. Those donations will be distributed to individual schools and used to fund monthly or quarterly raffle prizes for students who have maintained strong attendance over the course of the school year.

Frisbie Memorial Hospital is sponsoring a touch-a-truck event in June, where students who have successfully met the Challenge 5 criteria will have a chance to win a variety of prizes, including a ride home in a truck of their choosing.

“We are happy to support the Rochester schools with their innovative initiative to improve student attendance,” Frisbie Memorial Hospital President and CEO John Mariznik said. “It is so important to a child’s educational development to have a consistent presence in the classroom throughout the school year, and we are thrilled to be a part of helping that happen.”

The Napoli Group, a McDonald’s franchisee, contributed enough sundae coupons for every student in the district, and looks forward to congratulating Challenge 5 qualifiers when they present their coupons at Rochester stores. In addition, COAST Public Transit has donated bus tickets to the district so students can get free rides around the city to a destination of their choice.

“We’re thrilled by the strong community support we’ve received as we work at the local level to overcome one of the biggest challenges school districts face nationwide,” Superintendent Hopkins said. “The data both in our district and nationally are alarming, and we’re committed to reducing absences across the board this year and beyond.”

During the 2015-16 school year, two-thirds of Rochester students had five or more absences, while 42 percent had 10 or more. Though the number of students with 10-plus absences declined slightly during the last academic year, the amount of students who missed five or more days increased in 2016-17, from 67 percent the prior year, to 73 percent.

As a result, the district and its community partners will also work to identify what challenges keep students from making it to class, as well as working with area businesses to develop advertising for the program to display on signs throughout the city.

“The attendance team at each school is actively reviewing relevant data and working with families to eliminate any circumstances that may make it difficult for kids to make it to school,” Assistant Superintendent Kyle Repucci said. “Principals go above and beyond to assist families whenever transportation is identified as a difficulty by working with the attendance team to align transportation options to better serve students.”

Area businesses who are interested in providing signage to advertise the Challenge 5 program are encouraged to contact Repucci by calling 603-332-3678 or emailing him by clicking here.

Left to right: Rochester Schools Assistant Superintendent Kyle Repucci, Napoli Group General Manager Darrell Nalli and Brand Ambassador Larry Johnston. (Courtesy Photo)
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