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Lessons from the boycott

Monday's parent boycott will no doubt be hailed by its supporters as a success, and dished by critics as a disaster.

But no matter where you stand on the boycott itself, one thing is indisputable: it underscored the dire state of student attendance in the Buffalo Public Schools.

On the day of the boycott, average student attendance across the district was 53 percent. That compares to 61 percent attendance the previous Monday, which was also a half-day.

With those statistics floating out in the public domain now, plenty of people are wondering whether half-days really make much sense, if only six out of 10 students are going to bother showing up.

Even on a recent full day of school, attendance in the district was only 88 percent. In 10 schools that day, less than 80 percent of the students showed up. It's hard to imagine how anyone could see that as anything but major cause for concern.

And clearly, many officials are concerned.

Some Board of Ed members, most notably John Licata, have called to reinstate attendance teachers across the district. Common Council members, led by Demone Smith, are calling for the district to reinstate truant officers.

And the superintendent agrees the district must find ways to improve attendance.

So what's being done about it?

Good question.

Despite the nearly universal agreement that the district must take steps to increase student attendance, the proposed 2011-12 Buffalo Public Schools budget does not include reinstating attendance teachers or truant officers across the district.

While you ponder that, here is a school-by-school breakdown of attendance for the past three Mondays, including the day of the boycott (May 16). Note that May 9 and 16 were both half-days, whereas May 2 was a full day of school.

The list is sorted by attendance on the day of the boycott.

School   May 2 (full day)   May 9 (half day)   May 16 (half day)
Lorraine   91.90%   67.13%   N/A
BUILD   90.28%   49.43%   N/A
City Honors   96.47%   86.35%   82.14%
International School   95.02%   76.78%   78.60%
Olmsted 64   96.52%   82.79%   76.30%
Discovery School   96.63%   84.34%   72.99%
da Vinci   90.55%   86.35%   70.34%
Community School 53   89.97%   50.50%   69.85%
Middle Early College   90.85%   78.64%   69.15%
Occupational Training Ctr 98.36%   78.69%   68.85%
Olmsted 156   94.18%   73.75%   66.88%
Hutch Tech   87.04%   72.23%   63.74%
Native Am. Magnet   91.89%   67.87%   63.68%
Sedita   90.97%   60.03%   63.40%
Pantoja   90.63%   71.40%   63.03%
Lovejoy Discovery   91.64%   64.62%   61.94%
BEST   89.61%   64.61%   60.86%
D'Youville Porter   92.40%   67.08%   60.25%
Performing Arts   89.20%   69.42%   59.59%
School 81   94.38%   70.71%   59.02%
Highgate Heights   99.33%   60.50%   56.71%
West Hertel   85.08%   56.09%   56.51%
Grabiarz   90.98%   64.48%   55.74%
Badillo   86.23%   55.48%   55.56%
Waterfront   94.22%   65.63%   54.87%
Erie County Health Ctr   86.67%   64.00%   53.33%
Emerson   83.45%   74.05%   53.24%
Campus West   91.82%   66.23%   52.77%
Blackman   89.14%   64.30%   52.19%
Bilingual Ctr 33   92.68%   62.09%   51.84%
Tubman   90.10%   60.00%   51.55%
Hillery Park   93.88%   55.59%   51.22%
Futures   89.07%   54.14%   50.26%
International Prep   79.91%   66.35%   50.24%
Drew Science Magnet   91.08%   59.06%   50.00%
MST Prep   86.83%   61.62%   50.00%
Bennett Park Montessori 92.41%   60.77%   49.30%
Hamlin Park   86.68%   61.07%   48.37%
Houghton   87.96%   63.80%   47.55%
Makowski   90.71%   59.12%   47.02%
Wright   93.66%   58.99%   47.01%
Southside   90.65%   62.68%   46.84%
WNY Day Treatment   75.00%   84.62%   46.15%
MLK   92.01%   60.28%   45.99%
North Park   93.96%   61.20%   44.47%
Harvey Austin   86.89%   46.95%   43.60%
McKinley   76.39%   40.10%   43.54%
Roosevelt   89.92%   50.00%   42.55%
Lafayette   72.46%   51.02%   42.54%
ECC 82   91.45%   50.00%   42.34%
Drew Science ECC   90.79%   57.11%   41.37%
Burgard   72.60%   47.26%   39.56%
Riverside   71.41%   43.51%   37.90%
East   70.12%   44.41%   36.29%
ECC 17   87.78%   46.26%   36.28%
ECC 61   90.57%   43.71%   36.16%
South Park   77.21%   45.57%   35.77%
Bennett   69.93%   40.57%   35.18%
Grover Cleveland   35.48%   22.58%   12.90%

 

- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee | [email protected]


Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes | [email protected]


Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone | [email protected]


Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB | [email protected]

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