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Detroit schools officials tout start-of-year-attendance numbers

Detroit Public Schools officials are happy with the district’s attendance figures so far this year.

Emergency Financial Manager Roy Roberts says the district averaged 85% attendance Wednesday, the second day of school for Detroit students.

Roberts says that’s much better than the past two years. The district didn’t reach a 75% attendance rate until later weeks, jeopardizing state funds.

“We think this is proof that Detroit Public Schools is making great strides to meet the needs of the students,” Roberts said.

“We believe these numbers are only going to get stronger, because the district traditionally witnesses a surge in attendance at the start of the second week of classes.”

Roberts credits aggressive outreach programs across the city, particularly in churches, for the good numbers. He also noted attendance has been particularly strong at brand-new schools built as a result of Proposal S, a $500 million bond issue Detroit voters passed in 2009.

“Thee new schools, they’re full,” Roberts said. “We had to put a cap on some of those schools.”

But Detroit schools’ enrollment has plunged in recent years. Just over 50,000 students are enrolled this school year.

That’s about 15,000 fewer than last year, and less than a third of the number of students the district had in 2000.

Roberts said he’s hopeful the district’s enrollment plunged has “bottomed out.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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