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New Program To Fight Chronic School Absenteeism In Kansas City

Sam Zeff

Kansas City Mayor Sly James announced a new program Monday aimed at getting kids to go to school.

A recently released report from the nonprofit Attendance Works says 20 percent of American students are chronically absent from school. The organization calls it a national challenge.

The Missouri superintendents from Kansas City, Center and Hickman Mills all say chronic absenteeism is about the same in their districts.

So Mayor Sly James is asking for volunteers to work through Big Brothers, Big Sisters to mentor children from kindergarten through third grade in ten elementary schools in those three districts.

Mentoring has proven effective in improving attendance.

Research shows there is a direct relationship between chronic absenteeism and poor grades.

And poor grades leads to dropping out of high school and, says Mayor James, that’s when society pays a price.

“If we don’t teach our kids how to get the skills together to get their own stuff, they’re going to come and take yours,” he said.

Attendance Works says if you can get kids to class in September, schools have a much better chance of getting them to come for the entire year.

The report says 19 percent of Missouri students are chronically absent and about 23 percent in Kansas.

Mayor James says five area businesses have already committed mentors to jump start the program.

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