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More than a fourth of D60 students are "chronically absent"

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PUEBLO -

New numbers released by Pueblo City Schools show thousands of students in Pueblo aren't showing up for class.

More than a fourth of the district's entire student body have been chronically absent. 

District 60 says they have a major truancy problem, meaning some kids have more than 4 unexcused absences in a month or 10 in a year and community advocates are working to help get the kids back in class.

"Our job is to keep kids out of truancy court, not in truancy court," Shirley Arriaga, a community advocate for District 60 said.

Arriaga is one of 18 community advocates working to hold students accountable.

"We do a lot of phone calls, a lot of home visits, to try to get the students in school or to find out what the reason is why they're not in school," she said.

The district says of its nearly 17,000 students of all ages, more than 4600 are chronically absent, that's 27 percent of their entire student body not showing up for more than 10 percent of school days.

"Certainly this number is alarming," Dalton Sprouse, a spokesperson for Pueblo City Schools said. "You can't teach an empty chair, you certainly can't teach any empty classroom."

Sadly, a lot of the kids are facing challenges out of their control.

"We do have students who stay home and get their siblings ready for school because mom and dad are not at home to get them ready so they get them ready for school, babysitting, parents have to work and they can't get to school because they have to babysit," Arriaga said.

The district says it's hurting grades and test scores and the families need to get involved.

"We really encourage parents to really stress the importance to their students, to their children and even the community members if they see kids out there, we want to make sure these kids are in school," Sprouse said.

And while she has dozens going through truancy court right now, Arriaga is hoping to inspire them one by one.

"Sometimes you just have to go up to the individual student and let them know that you do care," she said.

The number of students that are chronically absent in District 60 is about two percent lower this year than it was last year (29.4% compared to 27.6%), something they say, is thanks to the district's intervention strategies.

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