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Local superintendents working to tackle chronic absenteeism

Chronic absenteeism is a key issue facing schools across Michigan, and one local district is addressing barriers and working to get students to school and keep them there. (Matt Loughrin/WWMT)

Chronic absenteeism is a key issue facing schools across Michigan, and one local district is addressing barriers and working to get students to school and keep them there.

While missing two days of school a month may not sound like much, Battle Creek Public Schools superintendent Kimberly Carter says the impact can be devastating.

"Missing two days of school a month is considered chronic absenteeism so that is 10 percent or more per school year," Carter said.

As head of Battle Creek Public Schools, Carter is on the hunt this academic school year to fix the stubborn problem.

"This is based on what we saw last year and what we decided is that we want to get ahead of the trend," she said.

Battle Creek Public Schools is not alone; it’s an issue plaguing districts across the state and nationwide.

Grand Rapids Public Schools superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal is promoting a push for good attendance too.

“We have sent letters to all of those families before school starts and said listen, last year this was an area of concern we want you here every day we need you here every day so we also try to get ahead of the curb," Neal said.

Carter says every absence is a lost opportunity to learn

"We want families to truly understand that even two days a month gets in the way of their child's academic success," Carter said.

The school district is putting a big focus on helping students inside and outside the classroom at all costs.

"We are talking to our local health care providers so that they have conversations with families about making sure that those appointments are maybe later in the day so that people don't miss school," Carter said.

Both superintendents agree it a solvable problem if everyone works together.

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