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BPS student attendance looking up

WBFO News file photo

Class attendance in Buffalo schools is inching up, perhaps slowly.

The district has had problems with attendance for years, sometimes blamed on doing away with attendance teachers years ago. Most of those involved can give any number of possible reasons why kids don't show up, ranging from parents not caring to students saying they have missed so many days they can't catch up so they might as well stay out.

"When it comes to attendance, unfortunately many of our parents and our students are challenged with a number of different issues that are outside of the school boundaries and as a result, many times those issues become barriers for students to attend school on a daily basis," says Student Support Services Associate Superintendent Eric Rosser.

There are also questions about how accurate the attendance data has been, but Rosser says, things are getting better.
"When we compare the attendance from this year to last year, the attendance is up this year, when compared to last year, approximately about a percentage point," Rosser. "We are in the process of implementing our comprehensive attendance plan. We are moving forward with that. Each month, we are doing something different as it relates to strategies to increase our attendance."

As far as past years, Rosser says the district has tightened the data process to make sure information is solid on who isn't there and when. There are also efforts to persuade parents of the value of getting their kids to school, especially in pre-K where there have been serious absentee issues as students begin to learn.

"We do have some parents who do have their children assigned to a pre-K class who may not think that if little Eric is not in attendance on a particular day, it's going to matter much," he says, "and what we have been doing to sort of increase the attendance, particularly among our pre-K population, is having those conversations, sharing with parents how important it is for their children to be in school every day."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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