Back to Class: Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Hopes to Boost Attendance
For the 34,000 kids who go to Minneapolis Public Schools, the first weekend of the fair is the end of summer. They go back to school Monday.
But the district is fighting a problem that might mean many of those students won't be coming back to class. The absenteeism rate is more than 40 percent.
"It's hard to see empty chairs, and it's hard to see students out walking in the neighborhood or the community. And so this is a goal that the district is embracing but it's also a goal that has to be owned by the community," said Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson.
Only 59 percent of students miss 8 days or less per school year.
"Missing 8 days of school, can you imagine, that's a lot," Johnson said.
The financial hit of low attendance hurts because each student also generates funding for the district. The state contributes more than $5,000 per student per year. Combine that with federal money for low income or special needs students and funding can reach $8,000 to $10,000 per student.
"Chronic absenteeism and depending on how many students are not present on a day could have an impact on the resources that we receive," Johnson said.
Also on Monday, thousands of teens from five Minneapolis high schools will take public transportation to get to school instead of traditional yellow buses. Johnson will ride the metro buses with students Monday morning.
"First of all you don't ask people to do what you aren't willing to do yourself," Johnson said.
Using Metro Transit is expected to reduce the number of traditional school buses the district uses by about 50.
Watch the full interview here.