Wasco Elementary School District earns 96% attendance rate for the district

Christina Lopez,
KernGoldenEmpire.com

(BAKERSFIELD, Calif.) Wasco Union Elementary School District is doing something many would consider hard to achieve: ranking a near perfect attendance rate throughout the district.
     
Wasco Union Elementary School District has a student population of 3600 and has managed to achieve a 95 percent attendance rate for the district.
     
At Karl F. Clemens Elementary, where 92 percent of the student population is Hispanic, teachers and administrators are working together to advocate for perfect attendance. 
     
Karl F. Clemens Elementary has a student population of over 600 ranking at a near perfect percentage when it comes to attendance rate at 96.3 percent. 
 
Just how is district achieving these numbers? "When students are truant and beyond the ability of the schools to coordinate services for them,  then we have a SART meeting and that's when we invite Kern County sheriff's department and probation, other agencies to see what's going on and how we can help out," said Jose Solis, a school counselor who works with and mentors students at Karl F. Clemens Elementary. 
     
Solis says the school is solution-based with support given toward the parent. "Our goal is not to go after the parent, it's more like to provide support. What's going on? What can we do to get Johnny or Billy back into school? 9 times out of 10 there's something going on at home and that's when we provide linkages to outside agencies," said Solis. 
     
Born and raised in Mcfarland, Solis says he sees himself in his students. "I grew up like most of the kids here. I was raised in a small community in Mcfarland, farm labor fuels our economy out of Mcfarland which it also does here in Wasco. My parents are farm workers and I say they are farm workers because they still work in the fields," said Solis.
     
Week after week attendance rates continue to stay or soar above 96 percent at Karl F. Clemens. "I believe that's due to a concerted effort from district office, our classroom teachers, our counselor, our parents -- they play a big role in this as well," said Danny Arellano, the Site Principal for Karl F. Clemens Elementary. 
     
Growing up in Wasco, Arellano's story hits incredible close to home. "What does it mean for you to live just minutes away from the school you went to and now you're the principal of?" asks Christina Lopez.
     
"You know, I don't think there's a day that goes by that I don't just walk on campus and think about myself as a kid, every time that I look at the kids walking through my hallways, I always think of myself as a role model," said Arellano. 
     
A role model who's leading a school that's serving as an example to other districts throughout the county.
     
Karl F. Clemens also sends out alerts to parents to notify them when their student is tardy or absent. The school hopes to keep these attendance rates up.

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