KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If a Ruskin High School student gets perfect attendance for a month, his or her name could be drawn out of a hat to get $100.
“One hundred dollars, that’s a lot of money for being on time to school every day,” Ruskin High School senior Walter Verge said.
Verge won the cash for not missing a day of school in March.
“I was very excited,” Verge said.
Handing out cash is a new incentive for high school students in the Hickman Mills School District to ensure students start learning on time.
“If you come to school every day, you put yourself in the best position to one: learn; two: grow; and three: do what everyone's dream is,” Ruskin High School Principal Torrence Allen said. “And that's graduate on time with your graduating class.”
Five years ago, the district’s attendance rate was 70 percent.
Last year, it increased to 81 percent. This year’s goal is 84 percent.
"Students don't come to school for various reasons: it could be due to homelessness; it could be due to long-term illnesses; it could be due to help supporting families,” Allen said. “It's just a wide range of things, so it's not just one thing."
The Raytown School District has a similar initiative called the “Attend to Win” program. It’s in its third year, where a sophomore, junior or senior with a 95 percent or higher attendance rate goes into a drawing in May to win a new car.
Hickman leaders said this is one of many incentives they have to keep students focused and in the classroom.
“That's the focal point,” Allen said. “We want our kids to be here every single day so we can educate them to ensure that they're on track and ready for graduation.”
The Hickman Mills Education Foundation funds the incentive.
Verge decided to use his $100 on groceries.
“Because I was given back something positive for doing something positive, I just decided to carry that on within my home and I bought groceries for my mom and she totally appreciated it,” Verge said.
Every school in the district will be participating, but the incentives are a little different depending on the grade.
Elementary schools have a $50 incentive each month with a chance to win a bike, and preschools have $25 each month.