New Count Day Incentives Designed to Drive Up Attendance Numbers

By: Jennifer Dowling Email
By: Jennifer Dowling Email

Your local school was triple-checking who was in class this week. Wednesday was the day when maximum attendance was crucial because its' tied to school funding. The Lansing School District pulled out the stops to attract kids to school.

At Cumberland Elementary, they handed out pencils and movie posters. At Pattengill Middle School, it was school picture day and they handed out backpacks. Jeneba Swaray says it's an incentive to come to school. She says, "My picture is going to be in the yearbooks so I can see myself in the yearbook." Pattengill Principal Kirk Sulzman says, "It's a good one for us. I do believe our attendance has been pretty good anyway. It does not hurt to have picture day on count day."

Lansing Schools Superintendent T.C. Wallace says, "Each school is being creative and coming up with something that will attract the students and pull them together on count day which is very important to our school district." He says, "We are optimistic that our collective efforts are going to minimize potential loss."

In addition to the incentives such as school pictures or free backpacks, administrators have other ways to make sure kids come to school and stay there. Kirk Sulzman says, "If they're not in attendance, we'll make phone calls to see if they're home sick or we will go get them and bring them in." He says, "Worse case scenario, we'll actually ask the LPD to got to the house and pick em up."

Parents are also key in this process. Wallace says, "We have some parent volunteers and certainly we reach out to the parents for assistance and their support and they know that we're out there, that we're in the community, that we're knocking on doors, we're going looking for youngsters at places that tend to be hang-outs."

Seventy-five percent of per-pupil funding will be determined by the number of students in class during the fall count day. The rest comes from a count day in February. Wallace says although the impact of incentives is more difficult to track for older kids, he says it's obvious that these incentives work to get the elementary students to school. He says, "I haven't met a child yet that doesn't like a good party." He says, "You can certainly track that in our elementary buildings. But, it's a little more difficult to design the activities for older youngsters. Picture day is an excellent one. You can measure that, but typically the other kind of activities are geared more to the elementary level."

Pattengill Middle School Student Jeneba Swaray says she likes the backpack giveaway. She says she thinks they're cute. Hopefully that's proof that the programs are working.

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