PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The Providence School Board has hired six "culture coordinators" for the city's middle schools in an effort to reduce student absenteeism.

Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza and Superintendent Chris Maher announced the hiring of the six new culture coordinators on Thursday. The goal is to promote student engagement through the coordinators, who serve as liaisons between the school and the community.

The hiring of a seventh coordinator is expected to be approved in January.

Maher says the coordinators will be there to support students during the transition from elementary school to middle school, where students tend to move to larger school buildings farther away from their homes.

Elorza says "providing a supportive and inspiring learning environment is critical for student success."