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Education

School absentee rates high in Winnipeg’s inner city

WINNIPEG — A group of inner city advocates say students are skipping school more often in certain areas of the city.

Three North End leaders will be at a Winnipeg Division School Board meeting tonight to ask school divisions and the provincial government to take more action to keep kids in school.

“If kids don’t attend school they can’t get an education. If they don’t get an education they can’t get good jobs and may not be able to meet their life goals,” Kyle Mason, Executive Director of the North End Family Centre and a St. John’s High School Grad.

Mason, Kent Dueck with Inner City Youth and Sel Burrows with the Point Douglas Resident’s Committee are teaming up to lobby for change.

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School division numbers show on Sept. 30, 2016, St. John’s High School, at 401 Church Avenue, had a 16 per cent absentee rate compared to the 3 per cent at Kelvin High School in the south end of Winnipeg.

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But St. John’s High School said those numbers are just a snapshot of just one day, that the monthly absenteeism is closer to 11 per cent.

“We need to find ways to make people feel comfortable coming to school,” said Principal Doug Taylor, “it’s massive, it’s a challenge that is not going to be corrected in one day, a year it’s going to take years.”

Taylor said the school has more than a dozen specialized programs to keep students engaged even recently buying standing desks and rocking chairs to try and find new ways to change the way students learn.

“Many students not attending school come from families impacted by provincial departments. They are on assistance, are in family services, are foster children or they are involved with the justice system,“ Sel Burrows said.

“These provincial departments need to support the teachers at schools like St John’s High School.”

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“We are calling on the school board and the province to ensure these youths are involved in an education program. The education program may have to look differently than the standard system but the cost of the kids not getting an education is too high,” Dueck said.

The three community leaders will be making a presentation to the Winnipeg One School Board meeting Monday, May 8 after 7 p.m.

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St. John’sKelvin
September 30, 2015
   Enrolment10441355
  # with 4 or more absents11538
   % Attendance89.0%97.2%
 May 30, 2016
   Enrolment10371349
   # with 4 or more absents16138
   % Attendance84.5%97.2%