PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Rhode Island's governor has joined several Providence children on their walk to school as a way of highlighting a program called the "Walking School Bus'' that's designed to reduce truancy.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee and state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist walked with Fogarty Elementary School students Thursday morning.

The program was introduced last fall by Family Service of Rhode Island to encourage students who live near their school to make it to class. The non-profit social service organization studied truancy at Fogarty and found that students living within a mile of the school have the most absences.

The program uses adult volunteers who meet students at sites in the neighborhood and escort them to class along a defined walking route.
About 25 students currently participate in the walking school bus.