CPS reports record attendance on first day of school year

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The Chicago Public Schools is beaming after taking count of the number of students who showed up for class on the first day of the school year. CPS officials reported record attendance for the Sept. 2 start of the academic year, with 93.7 percent of its 4

The Chicago Public Schools are beaming after taking count of the number of students who showed up for class on the first day of the school year.

CPS officials reported record attendance for the Sept. 2 start of the academic year, with 93.7 percent of its 400,000-plus students showing up.

Though at least 1,000 students took part in a boycott staged by some local clergy and traveled to the north shore to try and gain admission to schools in a wealthier school district, their absence did little to thwart the first-day attendance count.

“While the call for a boycott had little impact on our attendance, we are happy that those calling for the boycott were able to focus a lot of attention on our severe need for better state funding,” Chicago Public Schools’ CEO Arne Duncan said in a written statement.

This year’s attendance count was an all-time high for the school district, officials said.

CPS launched an aggressive back-to-school campaign at least a month ago, before the school year was to start.

Duncan and Board of Education President Rufus Williams started going door-to-door in August, reminding students of the upcoming school year start.

It appeared to be a community effort, as a local grocery story chain’s lawn signs were visible throughout a number of neighborhoods. Also, community leaders and residents were walking billboards, wearing T-shirts and other accessories urging students to go to school on the first day.

“We really appreciate our friends in the clergy, our elected officials and all the community groups who helped us deliver a very strong and consistent message about the importance of being in school every day and how closely attendance is tied to our students’ academic performance,” Williams said in a written statement.

This year’s first day attendance was nearly 1 percent higher than last year’s, according to CPS.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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