Workers with the Kansas City public school system are hard at work to regain accreditation, and they are putting many plans in motion this week during spring break.
Spring break tutoring was held at several local elementary and middle schools Monday so kids could come in to learn during their vacation.
It is all part of an effort to boost Missouri Assessment Program test scores, one of the district's re-accreditation goals.
Now, volunteers are picking up the phones, trying to track down some of the district's dropouts. School officials are trying to find out why those students are not attending school.
This week volunteers like teacher Nadia Nibbs have given up their spring break to recover those students.
"If I can reach out and get them enrolled in schools and make them see education is first, then I'm willing to do that, and I think families in Kansas City don't know their options," Nibbs said.
Volunteers are using phone records but some say even that has been a challenge.
"A lot of the parents aren't reachable: the numbers aren't working, old numbers which is concerning because that means that our system of communicating with those parents is not set up," Nibbs said.
There are about 17,000 students in the Kansas City School District but about 1,500 children are no longer attending school, and district volunteers are trying to reach them through phone records. That doesn't necessarily mean all of those children dropped out. They could have transferred to another district without parents informing the district that they were leaving.
"Some are transferring to charter schools. Two of the parents I've talked to have transferred out of the district," said Nibbs of some other reasons she's been given for why a student is no longer with KCSD.
The district's dropout rate stands at 16.6 percent, a figure they would like to see lower especially since accreditation status is a priority this year.
School board member Airick West, who also worked the phone lists, said it's important to find those students and, more importantly, find out why they left.
"Most of the districts in our area don't have the type of transiency issues our district does. So whether or not this is for accreditation or it's what our kids need, we are going to do it," West said.
Even though the district conducts this phone bank yearly, Kansas City school officials are trying to turn the tables on its accreditation status, and gaining more students is essential to that process.
One volunteer said, many times, students don't realize their options if they are unhappy or struggling in school.
Nibbs mentioned there are other educational avenues for dropouts, such as technical school and vocational training.
Wednesday volunteers will visit addresses of families they could not reach by phone.
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