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Volunteers canvas neighborhoods of Oklahoma City school with low enrollment

Only 70 students are enrolled in Thelma R. Parks Elementary, and school starts Monday. Administrators expected 300. The Oklahoma City superintendent, along with staff members and volunteers, walked the neighborhoods, knocked on doors and asked with parents to enroll their children.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: August 1, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: July 31, 2013

In Oklahoma City Public Schools, about 1 in 4 of children is absent the first day, according to district data.

“We want to have 45,000 kids in school on the first day,” Springer said. “It's just important. For kids, it's kind of like the first day on the job. It's just something you can't replace.”

Parents don't enroll their children or take them on the first day for a variety of reasons. Some don't realize they have to enroll their children ever year, even if the students attended the same school the year before.

One problem is some parents waiting for a transfer to another district. The open transfer period is in the spring — not the beginning of school. When they discover their children can't go somewhere else, school has already started.

“Most schools don't start for two or three weeks,” Springer said. “If the kid doesn't get a transfer, they'll miss two or three weeks of school.”