BUFFALO, N.Y. -- New attendance numbers are out for last school year in Buffalo Public Schools. While they are up slightly, Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash says there needs to be a more aggressive plan to get students to show up for class.
Dr. Cash says that includes offering incentives to students.
The average daily attendance for Buffalo Public Schools was up only about a tenth of one percent from 2016 to 2017. The average daily attendance rate for all BPS students was 89.07% for the school year that ended in 2017. The superintendent and school board agree that what the district is doing to boost those numbers is not working.
Dr. Cash says the problem has to be tackled on many fronts, from increasing the quality of the district's programs to making the learning environment more attractive so that students are motivated to come to school.
But he says that's only one piece of the puzzle: He says it's also on the parents and the students -if they're older- to take responsibility.
"We want more accountability. We want to put more pressure on parents this year, and more conversation, and dialogue about 'ok, so what are the issues with your child?' I mean, tell us so we can peel back and know each child, especially in these chronic and severe risk categories. What is causing the issue?" says Cash.
Wednesday night, many board members said a big part of the problem is that the district doesn't know why kids aren't showing up. Cash also brought up something 2 On Your Side reported on almost exactly one year ago- offering incentives to students with good attendance records.
"You mentioned incentives. What do you mean by that? What do you think would work?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"I don't know what would work. As I said, because it has to be a multiple approach of this, but each day, each week, each month, and then each quarter, the students in your class, Mrs. Jones, the students in your school, Mr. Smith, the students in this region, the students across the whole city...just tier the incentives with laptops. And maybe tablets, and backpacks, books, things that young people, I think, would appreciate," says Cash. "I don't want to make it so you have to get something in order to come to school. I still want that value of you have to come because it's the only pathway to opportunity."
To go along with those incentives, Cash says there also needs to be plenty of after school activities. He says everything from choir to chess club and Latin club could help give structure to students and motivate them to come to school.
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