• ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Summer vacation ends at 7:10 Wednesday morning, as the first of 25,000 city public school students are due back at their desks.

    How many will show up – nobody knows.

    Teachers have been working for two weeks preparing lessons, and district officials have been visiting churches to urge families not to miss the first day.

    District spokesman Patrick Wallace says in recent years 80 to 85 percent make the first day, but many are no-shows.

    Wallace says part of the problem is cultural, some parents recalling that when they were young they didn’t start school until after Labor Day.

    “That’s just a tough habit to break,” Wallace said, “Sometimes they schedule family reunions for late August, and unfortunately that gets in the way of the children being in school.”

    In past years, the district offered attendance prizes for the first day. One year they offered a chance to win a color TV.

    But Wallace says there won’t be any such prizes this year.

    “Every day is important academically, including the first day,” Wallace said.

    St. Louis public schools are now “provisionally accredited ” by the state, and results from the performance review testing done last spring will be released by the state in November.