United Way, SPS partnership increases school attendance
By Katelyn Gendron
SPRINGFIELD – A partnership between Springfield Public Schools and the United Way Pioneer Valley has been deemed a success and the proof is in the data.
The collaboration, which yielded the community-wide Stay in School campaign, has helped to increase attendance percentages into the 90s. Four schools – Glenwood Elementary (95.6 percent), John J. Duggan Middle (96.3 percent), Springfield Renaissance (94 percent), Springfield Public Day Elementary (94 percent) – were honored with the Attendance Cup on April 15 for highest attendance and four others – Rebecca Johnson Elementary, Forest Park Middle, High School of Commerce and Springfield Central High School – for most improved.
“We are thrilled that the improvements for just this past school year have been significant but there are some schools that aren’t making much headway, which is why we might focus on very specific schools or populations [next year, the last year of our partnership with SPS],” Dora Robinson, president and CEO, United Way Pioneer Valley, said. “We might shift our focus to middle schools because we know that students are dropping out physically or emotionally.”
The primary goal of the partnership was to “create community awareness,” she added.
“In September  we put together a Stay in School Kit – buttons, flyers, posters, stickers – for schools, community centers, churches. We have 51 schools in the systems and we sent the kits to all 51 schools and continue to replenish them. We needed to get the message out there,” Robinson explained.
School Superintendent Daniel Warwick said, “It is a wonderful complement to the many measures we have taken around the issue of attendance improvement. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the entire community to celebrate school success and I can’t wait to see the first trophies proudly displayed in schools.”
For additional information about the Stay in School campaign, visit its website, which is located at www.stayinschoolspringfield.org
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