EL MONTE – El Monte Union high schools are promoting regular school attendance among the thousands of students they serve with imaginative and positive reward systems that build on school spirit, including field trips, raffles and friendly competitions.

As a result, District attendance rates have steadily climbed to nearly 100 percent, rising from 96.77 percent in 2013-14 to 97.29 percent in 2016-17, exceeding rates posted by surrounding school districts.

“Every day is Attendance Awareness Month in El Monte Union, and our schools are doing an excellent job of promoting school attendance and creating a school climate that empowers all students to be great achievers,” EMUHSD Superintendent Dr. Edward Zuniga said.

Recognizing the importance of all students being in class every day, the El Monte Union High School District Board of Trustees designated September “School Attendance Awareness Month,” reaffirming the District’s commitment to narrowing the achievement gap by working with families to reduce chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school year, which can add up to two to three days a month.

The resolution is part of a nationwide attendance education campaign to underscore the critical role attendance plays in ensuring student success.

“We know that attendance is directly tied to student success and we make every effort to ensure our students receive the resources and support to be in class ready to learn every day,” Zuniga said.

To promote attendance among students, not only in September, but year-round, schools across El Monte Union reward students with special events and reach out to families when absenteeism becomes chronic.

At Mountain View High, for example, posters promoting good attendance hang around school, weekly drawings are held and monthly cookouts are held for grade levels with the best attendance.

At South El Monte High, students with perfect attendance can win a free ticket to a dance, a front-of-the-line lunch pass or ice cream sundaes. El Monte High makes regular morning announcements on good attendance and holds friendly class competitions.

Arroyo High hosts a most improved attendance lunch, raffles, ice cream socials and a monthly tablet give-a-away. Rosemead High School holds monthly attendance competitions and raffles, while Fernando R. Ledesma High issues Mustang gear for students with perfect attendance and gift cards to local vendors like Starbucks and In N Out.

All El Monte Union schools also understand the importance of interventions for those with a pattern of chronic absenteeism, instituting support systems and working with families to address the situation.

Schools conduct one-on-one meetings, individual counseling, parent conferences and home visits, providing families resources, referrals and support. Workshops are also held for parents.

“Working hand in hand with our teachers, families and communities is essential to combatting chronic absenteeism and ensuring our students have a bright future ahead of them,” Zuniga. “We are proud to be at the forefront and look forward to the day we reach 100 percent attendance rates.”