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Bolgen Vargas & Dan Lowengard Go On "Attendance Blitz"

Dan Lowengard
Randy Gorbman
Dan Lowengard

Rochester School Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has been holding monthly events where he and a number of other staff and volunteers fan out across the city, visiting the homes of children who have been chronically absent from school. It's called an "Attendance Blitz."

But Thursday, he got some extra help from the man who will be replacing him. Dan Lowengard, who takes over as Interim Superintendent next month went out with Vargas on the home visits.

Lowengard says it's crucial the district seek out the families where the students are chronically absent, starting with the early grades.

“It really starts in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade, and it’s not the kids, obviously, its circumstances at home that really get in the way of them attending, but if kids don’t attend every day, they’re going to struggle.”

Vargas says there has been some improvement in the attendance program over the last year or so, and he credits that in part to more participation by people and organizations in the community.           

“The United Way, the Community Foundation, we have significant institutions that are helping us and is in the forefront as the main issue that needs to be addressed.”

Both Vargas and Lowengard say these home visits are not meant to be punitive, but to find out what kinds of  help the families of those chronically absent students need to get them to school.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.