The Richmond Register

Education

April 21, 2013

School board split over consent items

(Continued)

MADISON COUNTY — Dropout age debate

The board was originally slated to vote on a policy change to raise the compulsory dropout age from 16 to 18 in response to new state legislation.

According to a provision of Senate Bill 97, once 55 percent of districts have adopted the policy, the remaining districts will have to sign on within four years.

The Kentucky Department of Education announced April 10 that the first 57 districts to approve the policy before the 2015-16 school year would each receive $10,000 in planning funds.

Although the board made plans to vote on the measure at Thursday’s meeting, the vote was shelved April 15. The district’s attorney advised the board to wait until the law goes into effect June 25.

“Any vote we take now can be challenged,” said Isaacs, who brought up the policy change again as “old business” Thursday.

She urged the community to think about the dropout change and contact their representatives on the school board about any concerns.

The district was able to reduce the number of dropouts to six students last year, Isaacs pointed out.

Good programs are already in place, she said. “If there is a district that is ready to take that on in the state of Kentucky, it’s Madison County.”

A 16-year-old “may not have all the tools they need yet to go out and meet the world,” she added.

But Lackey said the Kentucky Education Association “is very skeptical about this.”

He said teachers are concerned that the law “would be contributing to disruption in the classroom.”

The state Senate killed the (dropout age) proposal several times “because teachers didn’t want that,” Lackey said.

He also was concerned about the cost.

“These kids that don’t want to come to school, they want to drop out, we force them to come back — they are going to end up at Bellevue (Learning Center),” he said.

Brock said any opportunity to reach at-risk students “is an opportunity that we ought to take advantage of.”

By raising the compulsory age, she said, the district has more time to help students become successful.

“And if we had this (policy) in place last year, at most, the number of students we would have had to provide services to … would be six,” Isaacs said. There were 83 dropouts in 2006, she added.

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