YUMA, Ariz. – The United Way of Yuma has partnered with Climatec Building Technologies Group to try and lower chronic absenteeism at Yuma schools. With the support of Climatec, United Way of Yuma has started a competition between several elementary schools in Yuma the winning school gets a $1,000. The school with the highest percentage increase in attendance wins. The marketing director for the United Way of Yuma Karina Jones says, “September is attendance awareness month so what we are doing is starting a competition between a few different elementary schools”.
Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of the school year, which is about 18 days, excused or unexcused. Eula Baumgarner, the principal at Desert Mesa Elementary School says ,“We do have a problem with chronic absences they stay home for their birthday, they stay home to go to Mexico they stay home for almost any reason”. Research shows that constantly being absent can greatly impact a students grades and education, sometimes leading to course failure and eventual dropouts.
On Thursday afternoon the United Way of Yuma held an assembly at Desert Mesa to kick off the competition and bring awareness to the issue of chronic absenteeism. Even though $1,000 is offered to the winning school the stakes are much higher as Mrs. Baumgarner explains, “A thousand dollars is down here on my radar, getting you in school and not absent is my focus it is so important we can’t help you with what you need to work on if you are not here every single day.” At the assembly the United Way of Yuma had a special guest renowned artist Jonni Cheatwood. With the help of the Target in Yuma he brought with school supplies made by Yoobi, a product curated by award winning music artist Usher that features the artistic designs made by Cheatwood. Many of these Yoobi school supplies were raffled off to students at the assembly.
The United Way of Yuma will be holding another assembly at O.C. Johnson Elementary on Friday afternoon.