Ty Swenson
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn talks with Roxhill Elementary students after introducing the second year of the city's Be Here Get There school attendance campaign on Oct. 16.

Seattle kicks off school attendance campaign at Roxhill Elementary

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda chose Roxhill Elementary in West Seattle as the launch point for their incentive-driven attendance program “Be Here Get There” on Oct. 16.

"Research has shown that students with more than 20 absences per year have less than a one in five chance of graduating from high school," McGinn said in a statement. "We need to all work together to get our kids in school.”

“When we look at research, it shows there is a direct correlation between students coming to school every day and their rate of success and achievement,” Banda said at the assembly. “So students, we encourage you to come to school every single day … because instruction is key and we don’t want you to miss out on opportunities.”

Banda and McGinn were joined by several Roxhill students, Roxhill’s new principal Sahnica Washington, and a slew of business representatives who have chipped in on incentives for kids who make it to school.

“If we are aiming to close the achievement gap, it is imperative that students are present every single day,” Washington said, adding that Roxhill Elementary is taking time each month to celebrate students and classrooms who show good attendance.

The goal of this year’s campaign is to have 80 percent of SPS students with less than ten absences per year, according to the city. Last year (the first year of Be Here, Get There), SPS said their average was less than 10 days missed per student, an improvement of four percent over the prior year.

A big hitter in the world of philanthropy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined the effort this year with the promise of donating classroom and playground supplies to schools as part of a monthly attendance challenge.

The campaign, beyond incentives and attendance competitions, also aims to “focus on strategies for schools, students, families and the community, as well as the shared responsibility to improve attendance. The campaign will address chronic absenteeism in ways that meet the needs of students, families and schools,” according to a press release.

According to the Mayor’s Office, Be Here Get There is a joint initiative of the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, the YMCA, Youth Ambassadors, the Alliance for Education, To help the campaign reach students, local businesses including Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Top Pot Doughnuts, Pagliacci Pizza, Trophy Cupcake, Tutta Bella Pizza, SIFF, the Aquarium, the Symphony, the Seattle Children’s Theatre, the Experience Music Project, D’Ambrosio Gelato, Pie, Catering by Phyllis, KEXP, Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, and others are supporting the campaign through generous contributions.

“This year is going to be bigger and better than ever …,” McGinn said, addressing Roxhill students. “What we are saying to the kids here is ‘Going to school matters.’ We know that you have to get up every day and show up for school and sometimes its wonderful and sometimes its boring, but showing up every day really matters … and we want to give you a pat on the back and say thank you for what you do because we are counting on you, we are counting on all you kids.”

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