Knox County District Attorney General - Charme P. Allen

Bike Reward Program Helps Improve Absenteeism at East Knox County Elementary

Posted: 05/21/2018Feature Photo

Students from East Knox County Elementary are rolling into summer after achieving perfect attendance in General Charme Allen’s Bike Reward Program. General Allen presented 79 students with a brand new bike on Monday. Helmets were provided by Epilepsy Foundation of East Tennessee.

Each year since taking office, General Allen has partnered with different Knox County elementary schools to reward students who achieve perfect attendance with a new bike.  As part of her Truancy Reduction Initiative, she created the Bike Reward Program to encourage positive habits early on.

“The first step in achieving success is showing up. That is true for anyone; however, for students, it is especially important because education sets the groundwork for their future, and we want to help give them the tools they need to lead productive lives,” said General Allen. “My job requires me to be tough on crime; however, there are things we can do as a community to prevent crime. I started this incentive program to give students and families a fun goal to work on together and to educate our community about the positive impact of school attendance. Every day truly does count.”

Good attendance matters for school success, starting as early as prekindergarten and throughout elementary school. Chronic absenteeism and truancy are identified as areas of concern in our schools and community. Students are considered chronically absent when they miss 10 percent or more of the school year.

Reducing truancy is a vitally important step in preventing Knox County youth from entering the juvenile justice system. Research and first-hand experience tell us that children who are truant have lower grades, need to repeat grades more often, have higher rates of expulsion and have lower rates of high school graduation. Research also tells us that children who habitually miss school are at risk of substance abuse, gang activity, criminal behavior, suicide and early sexual activity, making truancy a community issue, not just an education issue.

The program has positively impacted participating schools by increasing school attendance and raising overall awareness about the importance of school attendance. Previous partnering elementary school leadership has also attributed the Bike Reward Program to helping improve test scores and school culture.

“Our school is appreciative of the support and partnership with District Attorney General Charme Allen and her office to encourage our students to come to school every day they are not sick, to do their job of learning,” shared East Knox County Elementary School Principal Kristi Woods. “This program is a great example of the work we can do together as a community. When you have a community organization come beside you to help with a major initiative such as this, it makes a difference.  We have reduced the percentage of students who are chronically absent, and we have doubled our students who have perfect attendance for the year!”

General Allen is committed to reducing truancy rates through supporting prevention and early intervention and looks forward to partnering with other schools in the future. If you would like to contribute to the Bike Reward Program, contact Emily Scheuneman at 865-215-3736 or emily.scheuneman@knoxcounty.org.

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