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Buffalo schools will get tough on attendance

By Eileen Buckley

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-983214.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo School District is working to improve attendance rates for the upcoming school year. The district is getting ready to launch celebrity robo-calls.

Schools superintendent James Williams informed the school board that automatic calls will go out to the homes of students who fail to show up for class. Recorded messages will include voices of the Buffalo Bills and Mayor Byron Brown.

Starting this coming Monday, about 20 parents and 20 staffers will begin five days of live phone calls. Associate Superintendent Will Keresztes said they will target families of four grade levels that have the highest absenteeism in the City school district, kindergartners, seventh, eighth and ninth graders.

It's a system that has never been used by the District in the past. Kereztes says he's optimistic it will "yield results." He will also meet with city school principals on September first to discuss student incentives for attending classes.

Principals must now follow an attendance improvement plan. They will be held accountable for implementing protocol to deal with chronic attendance troubles.

A study by the District indicated that more than half of Buffalo high school students missed 18-days or more last year. The district directly correlates poor attendance to low graduation rate crisis.