MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — Several South Dakota school districts recently received a new grant to battle chronic absenteeism.
And, some of them are already putting that money to work.
The Mitchell School District will have access to around $407,000 over the next three years to find solutions to keep students from skipping class.
“And in the chronic absenteeism percentages in Mitchell, that percentage is 18%. So 18% of our students that are missing a substantial amount of the school days. And so that’s an alarming number to us,” says superintendent Joe Childs.
One of the main things the district wants to do is hire a social worker, who will also act as an attendance liaison. The liaison would meet with families whose children are missing school, identify children who are on track to miss too much school, and also try to identify the barriers these children are facing.
“Some of those might be communication barriers, some of those might be transportation barriers, social and emotional health, and just putting them in touch with the resources that will help them find their way to the school,” says Childs.
The grant money will also be used to implement incentive programs to encourage kids to attend school.
“And so currently we offer Kernel Club activities for volleyball and basketball, but we like to make those offerings for fine arts and performing arts as well, and just find more avenues to get students engaged and in school and in other other students and friendships that will develop,” says Childs.
By helping students succeed now, the community will benefit in the long run.
Mitchell School District can access the grant money in December. It is looking to hire someone to be its attendance liaison.