By Harold C. Ford
“All hands on deck.” — Kevelin Jones, assistant superintendent, Flint Community Schools
More than 50 percent of students expected to attend Flint Community Schools (FCS) during the 2020-21 school year were no-shows through the first week and a half of school that began Aug. 5.. In response, teams of FCS educators—including Superintendent Anita Steward and Assistant Superintendent Kevelin Jones—have undertaken extraordinary efforts to get students back to school.
“We were down 2,000 children and that had never happened to us before,” Jones told East Village Magazine (EVM). Jones said FCS officials expected to have 3,800 students enrolled in Flint schools for the 2020-21 school year. When only 1,500 students had shown through the first eight days of school, FCS leadership decided to go into the community to find their students.
FCS educators—including paraprofessionals, parent facilitators, social workers, teachers, building administrators, and central office staff—boarded buses and drove to targeted neighborhoods to recruit enrollees. “We are feet to the pavement, out in the streets, going door-to-door…to connect with our families,” said Jones.
Individual phone calls, robocalls, radio and television bulletins, social media communiques, and website postings did not generate the intended response to the opening of school. “This is an unprecedented time,” said Jones. “If we need to be out next week, then we will be out next week.”
According to Jones, the beyond-the-call-of-duty recruitment efforts have yielded results. He claimed that the number of missing students has been reduced from 2,000 to 800. “We’re happy about that,” he said.
Asked about his approach, Jones said, “Our pitch is simply the truth. It’s school time. It’s time to learn.”
EVM Education Beat reporter Harold C. Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.