According to Attendance Works, the effects of poor attendance are most evident among children from low-income households who need more time in the classroom to master reading and are less likely to have access to resources outside of school to help them catch up. We see that in our district where children are entering school with highly diverse levels of academic readiness. By lowering the compulsory attendance age to five, our hope is that our youngest students will attend school more consistently and our families will recognize the importance of kindergarten and its role in providing the foundation essential for school success in later years. (Attendance Works is a national organization dedicated to improving the policy, practice and research around attendance.)
As educators, we understand that kindergarten plays a pivotal role in preparing children for school and for learning. I applaud Assemblyman John McDonald and Sen. Neil Breslin for recognizing this, and I thank them for their support of this legislation to make attendance mandatory, as it will ensure 5-year-old children receive the educational benefits that early learning programs provide.
Lights, camera, Food for Fuel!
In addition to being school attendance month, September is also Hunger Action Month. With 75-80 percent of our student population qualifying for free- and reduced-price school lunch, we know that many of our students lack access to regular meals when school is not in session.Raising money and raisin' a ruckus! With the lovely staffers @vlietschools & the Backpack Heros campaign. pic.twitter.com/2UuPxwavDK— Liz Bishop (@CBS6_LizB) September 27, 2017
In an effort to alleviate hunger for our students in need, last year we joined forces with the Watervliet Civic Center to launch the Food for Fuel program, which provides backpacks filled with nutritious food for the weekend to elementary students referred by teachers or other staff members. Funding for Food for Fuel was obtained with grants and donations from United Way Greater Capital Region, Walmart, SEFCU, J,M, McDonald Foundation, Kinderhook Bank, Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust and the Watervliet Teacher's Association.
A CBS 6 news crew along with venerable news anchor Liz Bishop interviewed several of our students, parents and staff members about the benefits of the Food for Fuel program. [Go to CBS 6 news video] CBS 6 and Fidelis Care also organized a live phone bank at the elementary school to raise money for the Regional Food Bank. The event, which was broadcast live on Channel 6, was a huge success -- raising $10,000.
I could not be more proud of our Board of Education members, teachers, staff and administrators who volunteered their time working the phones. I especially thank Don Stevens, Geraldine Ferris and Civic Center Director Bill Sheehy for their behind-the-scenes work with CBS 6, Fidelis Care and the Regional Food Bank on this important initiative. My gratitude to CBS 6 and Liz Bishop as well for visiting our school and highlighting this program.
To help combat hunger year round, I encourage you to visit the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York website to learn how you can help the organization take action against local hunger through volunteering or donating.