About 40 Rochester school district and city officials, including Mayor Tom Richards, fanned out in city neighborhoods this morning, searching for absentee students.
In groups of two and three, they knocked on doors in search of about 120 students who have missed 10 to 20 days this school year, said Patricia Malgieri, the district's chief of staff. This morning's effort concentrated mostly on students in kindergarten to third grade, and East and Charlotte high schools, where attendance is among the worst in the district.
Officials are also concentrating on students who are at least attending school part time, and are not complete no-shows.
"We've got to start someplace and this is as good a basis to start with as any," Richards said, echoing Superintendent Bolgen Vargas's concern that low attendance is directly related to low student achievement. And the problem starts in the lower grades and progresses.
About 35 percent of Charlotte High School students are not coming to school on any given day, Vargas said.
Vargas's began his push to address the district's attendance problem last year. Thousands of city students are not attending school regularly, he said.