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Kansas City School District to pay kids to attend class

A Kansas City-area school district plans to use money as an incentive and pay students to attend class every day.

Students at Hickman Mills School District’s four secondary schools will have the chance to win $100 each month if they have perfect attendance.

“We have been working on this for five years,” said Carl Skinner, deputy superintendent for student services. “Students can’t learn if they are not in school. It’s a nationwide problem.”

Ruskin High, the Freshman Center, Smith-Hale Middle School and the Crittenton Center students with perfect attendance each week will be entered into a monthly drawing. Each school will then draw a winner’s name at the end of the month.

The district’s elementary school students will be eligible to win $50 each month and a new bike at the end of the year.

The funds for the incentives come from the district’s educational foundation and school fundraisers.

“The students are really excited about it and the parents love it,” Skinner said. “It helps them to realize that attendance is important, and there is a bonus.”

The district previously used a punitive program to try and boost attendance, he said. Parents and students were cited after a child missed school for seven days without explanation.

Parents are still called when a student misses three to five days. School counselors will also meet with students and parents to find a solution to the attendance issue.

The school district’s online policy states: In accordance with Missouri law and district policy, regular and punctual patterns of attendance are expected of each student enrolled in the district. The ultimate goal is for all students to graduate from high school. By law, students may not drop out of school until they are 17 years of age or they have successfully completed 16 hours of high school credit.

It is now known if the attendance policy will be changed in any way to reflect the new effort.