Principals, parents, and students all stand to benefit when kids go to school in Chicago, thanks to incentives sponsored by the City and local businesses.

And so far, these incentives appear to be working. First-day attendance for the 2005-2006 school year in the Chicago Public Schools was estimated at 93 percent – a record high for the district. This year’s attendance rate – one percentage point higher than last year’s – can be linked to focused attendance incentives and a strong Back-to-School campaign.

A program launched last year provides financial rewards to schools which raise their attendance rate by at least one percent. For the current year, 82 schools are receiving awards ranging from $750 to $4,000. These monies are designed to be reinvested into attendance-improvement initiatives.

Parents whose children show perfect attendance during the school year will be eligible to win one of ten Jewel $500 gift cards. A local radio station will pay the rent or mortgage for twelve families of students with zero absences.

What’s in it for the kids? Students can vie for a variety of promotional incentives, including a homecoming dance hosted by a local radio station (high school), or a special visit to the school from Mickey Mouse (elementary).

Raising academic achievement in the city’s schools is, of course, the paramount incentive. In a recent press release, Mayor Richard Daley says that “nothing is more important to the future of our city and our nation than the education of our young people.”