Compass: School-business partners invest in their future workforce

The "Drive for Perfect Attendance" and "Win a Trip to Disneyland" attendance incentives were initiated by school business partners Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge of South Anchorage, GCI and IBEW to support the Anchorage School District's Destination 2020 attendance goals.

While the ASD is supportive of these incentives, they are administered through the Anchorage School Business Partnership program (SBP), a nonprofit that has been connecting businesses with schools for two decades. The school district does not run them.

Incentive programs sponsored by school business partners have been taking place in our district for many years.

The International Rotary Club has been providing refurbished computers as an attendance incentive for its partner school; Village Inn rewards students for making good decisions by treating them to lunch at the restaurant. Subway has provided incentives for its partner schools for more than 22 years. Many partners award students with scholarships and performance awards.

These attendance incentives are a generous pursuit by our business partners to increase attendance and ultimately student performance.

While these business partners know there are many factors that impact a student's ability to go to school, they all agree that if they can provide encouragement for even one student, it is worth their investment. So that no student is eliminated from the program for being sick, high school students will be eligible to win prizes quarterly for perfect attendance, and Pizza Hut and the Alaska Aces are giving gifts to all students who miss no more than eight days during the school year. Elementary students are able to have excused absences and still be eligible for the grand prize.

As Troy Jarvis of Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge of South Anchorage says, an employer relies on employees to come to work every day, on time, ready to learn. He believes habits start at a young age, and he hopes to inspire students to approach school like they would a job.

Ultimately, the hope is to better prepare this new generation for the workplace.

Cheri Spink is the executive director of Anchorage School Business Partnerships. SBP has been working with the Anchorage School District for 22 years. It represents more than 500 businesses and organizations with more than 650 partnership agreements. These school business partners provide support through mentoring, volunteering, on-the-job training, internships, job shadows and incentive programs.