Group discusses how to increase graduation rates in Cape Girardeau

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

After nine months of meeting and data gathering, a local group is starting to nail down a plan to increase graduation rates in the Cape Girardeau School District.

The United Way of Southeast Missouri's Education Solution Team met Tuesday to discuss which strategies to implement.

The group, which began meeting in February, includes school officials, religious leaders and leaders of service organizations. Committees have been gathering data and making presentations to the group on a monthly basis. Presentations have included intervention methods for at-risk students, ways to increase literacy and parent involvement.

Each committee narrowed down ideas to pursue, and the group discussed its options Tuesday. Some strategies were more expensive than others.

One idea included a public-relations campaign to encourage the importance of attendance through advertising on billboards and public transportation. Another included providing more transportation, possibly working through the Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority.

One of the most expensive strategies recommended hiring more social workers. The district currently has one social worker who concentrates her efforts on students at the middle and junior schools.

Some ideas like field trips to the high school or Southeast Missouri State University would be cheaper to implement. Mark Cook, principal of Jefferson Elementary School, said trips to the university helps students learn about college at a younger age.

"Regardless of their financial status, they don't know what [Southeast] is," he said.

In January and February, the group will decide what to fund, by shifting United Way money or pursuing grants, said Nancy Jernigan, executive director of United Way.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark Ave. Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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