Attendance Team

Education is one of life’s greatest equalizers. It opens minds to new understanding, unveils new possibilities and unlocks doors to new opportunity and success. (Believe 2 Become, 2016)  Attending school regularly is essential to students gaining the academic and social skills they need to succeed. In Polk County, however, a reported 9,403 students last year – a full 10% of the total student population - found their education slipping away due to chronic absenteeism. 

Identified as a key need by the Polk County School District’s Strategic Plan, the Attendance Team devoted the 2016-2017 school year to conducting research, making presentations, visiting schools, and holding one-on-one meetings with counselors and principals, in order to develop a comprehensive Tactical Plan targeted to decrease the rate of student absenteeism. 

Starting as early as pre-school and kindergarten, chronic absence can leave third graders unable to read proficiently, sixth graders struggling with coursework and high school students off track for graduation. Inspired by the success achieved by the Grand Rapids, Michigan School District (Believe 2 Become, 2016), the Polk Vision Attendance Team together with Polk County Public Schools is implementing a multi-pronged tactical plan that will be piloted in five area elementary schools.  Creating accountability at the District and School leadership level is at the core of the pilot program. The pilot will launch in fall of 2017 with an actionable messaging campaign intended to activate parents as partners and engage the local community as stakeholders.




Challenge 5 Schools 

Combee  Academy

Eagle Lake Elementary

Garner Elementary

Griffin Elementary

Palmetto Elementary





Did You Know 

  • 1 in 7 Kindergarteners were chronically absent last year - that’s approximately 157 hours of class time! (Polk County Public Schools)

  • 5,110 K - 5th grade students were absent 21 or more days during the 2016-17 school year. (Polk County Public Schools)




A key component of the Challenge 5TM campaign is a video featuring School  Superintendent Jackie Byrd, Sheriff Grady Judd and the School Principals of the  Challenge 5TM schools promoting  the importance of attendance.

Attendance Team

Shannon Gillespie – Co-Chair, Polk County Public Schools

Janet Lamoureux – Co-Chair, Council PTA

Jackie Bryan- Polk County Public Schools

Brett Butler   – Co-Chair,  Polk County Schools

Pam Craven   –  Learning Resource Center

Kenneth Franklin – Early Learning Coalition of Polk

Matti Friedt –  Polk County Public Schools

Sandy Hightower – Community Volunteer

Brenda Johnson – Community Volunteer

Patty Linder - Polk State College

Jodi Miller - United Way of Central Florida

Rolanda Sealey - Polk County Public Schools

Carol Sherron - Huntington Learning Center

Neal Steiger - Lakeland North Rotary Club

Shandale Terrell - Polk County Public Schools

Billy Townsend - Polk County School Board

Beverly Woolery - Polk state College