TOLEDO (WTOL) - Chase Elementary kids get "paid" to go to school. They get Chase Elementary bucks they can turn in for toys and other goodies.
Some may say we should not pay our kids to do something they are supposed to do. The principal says that isn't so -- saying, in fact, the program may be saving the school's reputation.
These are the rewards in the Chase knickknack store: a hoodie, stuffed animals, candy and other donated items. Student Jazzaray Drake tells us, "I had bought one of those little TVs. I bought a little bit of candy."
All they have to do: "At the end of the week, every student who gets to school on time gets paid in Chase bucks," says Jayvon Ford.
Drake has about five saved up for the DVD player on the top shelf.
It may sound like the school is bribing its kids, but Karen Ahrens says the program she started is an innovative way to address a serious problem. "We had a lot of students that would miss even up to a quarter of the school year," she says.
Principal Cathy Johnson says the effort doesn't stop with the store. Local judges are now holding monthly mediation meetings with parents to get them involved. "You're setting patterns for life. I think that's what judges have been seeing, so they want to come in and do some mediation with the parents, trying to see what can we do to help. We need your child there, and we need them on time," Johnson says.
With a 96 percent attendance rate, they say gifts are a small price to pay to have kids present and ready to learn.
Ahrens says, "When the student comes home, they're excited about Chase Bucks shopping -- 'I'm going to earn my Chase Bucks.' It makes a big difference."
Attendance is just one hurdle the school has to overcome. The principal is now hoping a new science curriculum will pull the school out of academic watch.