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New Task Force Announced to Support LRSD Student Attendance Efforts
September is "Attendance Awareness Month." Timed to coincide with this important observance, the Little Rock School District, in partnership with Heart of Arkansas United Way, Arkansas Campaign for Grade Level Reading, AR Kids Read, the Optimist Club of Greater Little Rock, and the City of Little Rock, kicked off its annual "Feet to the Seat"- Chronic Absenteeism Campaign, Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at Cloverdale Middle School, 6300 Hinkson Rd.
“This is our second year of using this approach to create a greater awareness about the importance of school attendance,” said LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore. “Students are considered chronically absent when they miss ten percent of the school year for any reason. You may not realize it, but that’s just two days per month!”
Cloverdale was selected to host the kick-off because of its strides in improving attendance last school year. The school’s administrative team and teachers used various methods, that included incentives and competitions, to increase their attendance by 8%. Principal Wanda Ruffins shared why this effort was personal for her.
“I thought about it, school was fun for me. I thought my teachers really cared about me and I was missed if I wasn’t there,” said Ruffins. She added that she also had buy-in from her Cloverdale teachers.
“We made it an effort to make calls personally when a student was out. If we were calling parents about something else, we were also talking about the importance of being at school.”
We understand that attendance does matter,” echoed Mayor Scott at the news conference. “Not only does it warm my heart that we had an 8%, increase, but as someone who was born, raised and still resides in southwest Little Rock, to see Cloverdale lead the way in this effort, so everyone else can replicate it, is great,” said Scott.
Last year, 20 campuses participated in the targeted campaign effort. This year, LRSD will increase student and school participation to help push a message about the importance of school attendance district-wide. The effort will also include professional development and coaching that incorporates data and evidence-based strategies for all schools, led by the Arkansas Campaign for Grade level reading. Additionally, during the month of September, the campaign will feature weekly attendance reminder calls to parents, social media contests and a simultaneous district-wide community walk/school activity on Saturday, September 21, 10.a.m.
The reasons for missing class vary, ranging from transportation to family issues. Poore said the addition of a new task force, comprised of educators, parents and community members, will help further study challenges related to absenteeism and work to develop strategies. United Way – Heart of Arkansas, by way of the Optimist Club, is also donating $40,000 in incentive money for the “Feet to the Seat” effort. Task force members will help determine the best way to award the incentives.
Task force members include:
Michael Drake, City of Little Rock
Jennifer Glasgow, AR Campaign for Grade Level Reading
Aaron Lubin, Bright Futures
Carla Sparks, Arkansas Children’s Hospital
Edgar Mejia, LRPTA Council
Wanda Ruffins, Cloverdale Middle School Principal
Kelicia Glover, Mabelvale Elementary School Principal
Karisa Allmon, J.A. Fair High School Principal
LeQuieta Grayson, LRSD Counselor Coordinator
Michael Poore, LRSD Superintendent
Dr. Ericka McCarroll, LRSD Campaign Coordinator
Kim Wright, ADE Family Engagement Coordinator
Jocelyn Craig, LRSD Community Advisory Board Member
“We are grateful for this important partnership with all of our stakeholders. Having a campaign that creates awareness and encourages regular school attendance is one of the most powerful ways we can help prepare our students for success,” said Poore.
Weekly statistics will be charted on each school’s progress on the District’s website. Schools are encouraged to use #FeettotheSeat and #LRSDPowerofUS hashtags for the campaign.