The LaRue County School Board last week raised the dropout age from 16 to 18.
In a special meeting June 25, the board discussed the approval of the Senate Bill 97, known as the “Graduate Kentucky” bill passed in March, intended to raise the compulsory drop out age from 16 to 18.
“Districts all across the state have discussed this bill; a few had midnight meetings,” said Superintendent Sam Sanders, during the overview of the bill. “Once 55 (percent of the) districts in the state approve the change it will be a required change.”
Out of 174 districts within the state, 96 must approve the changes in order for the age change to become mandatory statewide.
To help move remaining school districts towards making a decision, the Kentucky Department of Education will award $10,000 in grants to the first 57 districts that choose to change the dropout age.
According to the KDE, 75 schools adopted the standard in the first week.
“We knew there would be a groundswell of support for keeping students in school to obtain their high school diplomas, but this rush to vote by the school boards has exceeded our already lofty expectations,” said Governor Steve Beshear in a release.
Sanders believes that passing the bill will help those students within the public school system stay in public school longer and will help them to have greater success. “If a student, at sixteen, drops out of school it will definitely be an uphill climb,” said Sanders.
“It’s a great way for us to say to students and encourage students to ‘stay in school’.”
Board member Linda Pearman agreeing with Sanders, said, “I think we need to get on board with Senate Bill 97 to keep these kids in school.”
Sanders said that the drop out number is very low, averaging about one to two students annually.
“Sometimes you come across a student that you do everything you can to try and help them stay in school, and they are so determined to drop out that they will do anything to get out –this bill will help keep that from happening,” said Sanders.
The Superintendent said students who may leave the public school system to be homeschooled, are not considered as dropouts.
Parents or guardians are required to notify the school each year they choose to homeschool their children.
The Board agreed that adopting the bill would help keep students in school and improve over all student success.
Once the bill is passed into law, it will go into effect for the 2015-16 school year.
Blitz to 96 Initiative
The “Blitz to 96” is a statewide initiative to reach the 55 percent threshold that will make the attendance age change standard to all districts.
First lady Jane Beshear opined: “The Blitz to 96 encourages school districts to update this long overdue policy quickly, and take advantage of the resources available to keep students enrolled and engaged.”
Once 96 districts have approved the change, the remaining school districts must adopt and implement the policy within four years.