The Richmond Register

Local News

March 18, 2013

Beshear signs bill raising dropout age

It took five long years

FRANKFORT — It took five long years and a compromise offered by Republican Sen. David Givens, but Gov. Steve Beshear, first lady Jane Beshear and Democratic Rep. Jeff Greer Monday finally saw their dream of raising the state’s high school dropout age come true.

Beshear signed Senate Bill 97, which will allow individual school districts to raise the dropout age to 18 on a voluntary basis. Once 55 percent of the districts have done so, it would become mandatory for all other districts to follow suit within four years.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Jane Beshear, who has crusaded for the change. She said the increase from 16 years old is “setting the expectation for every child, every parent, every educator and every civic leader,” showing that “we do believe education is the answer to so many of Kentucky’s problems,” she said.

The governor called the measure “one of my highest legislative priorities” and said it sends “a clear message to our youth that education does matter.” He said the links between education and higher income, economic stability, better health and longevity are “irrefutable.”

Greer has sponsored a measure to increase the dropout age to 18 (from 16) in each of the past five General Assembly sessions and it passed the Democratic-controlled House each time but ran into resistance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

There skeptics said many school districts aren’t equipped to offer alternative education to students facing academic difficulty or failure, some of whom often display accompanying behavior problems.

But Jane Beshear said Kentucky now “has the tools” to offer alternative programs in nearly every district and the gradual implementation will allow districts to prepare for the costs.

Greer thanked Givens and Senate Education Chairman Mike Wilson for working with him, the Beshears and House Education Chairman Carl Rollins to craft a compromise solution to the previous impasse.

“I’m so proud Kentucky no longer is going to say ‘go ahead and quit’ (to potential dropouts),” Greer said. Most students, he continued, are “too young to make that decision and too often do not have the guidance at home to make that decision.”

Like the other speakers, Givens praised the “passion and persistence” of the First Lady and said the bill is a step forward for the state, but he added there remains work to do.

He said even without the bill, Kentucky has made impressive gains in the high school graduation rate. But those still dropping out represent stiffer challenges and the state must ensure they receive a diploma by the time they reach 18.

Pension talks

On another issue, Beshear said he’s been meeting with both Democrats and Republicans trying to resolve an impasse on pension reform.

The Senate passed a reform package which would move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan while retaining current defined benefits for existing workers and retirees. It also recommends making full payment each year into the retirement system but offers no source of income to do that.

The Democratic House rewrote the Senate bill to keep new hires in a defined benefit plan and then passed a companion bill which uses growth revenues from expanded lottery games and instant racing to pay for the annual contribution.

Beshear declined to say if either side had given any ground on the last point and noted there are differences in the pension packages as well. But he said he is encouraged by the “good faith” of all parties and they’ve set up a schedule to continue meeting.

He said he still is hopeful the two sides can reach agreement before the 2013 General Assembly is scheduled to end March 26.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-20 Shoulders-B.jpg Eggs fly at park

    Easter has probably never been so “eggstravagant” in Richmond as it was Saturday during the annual Eggstravaganza in Irvine-McDowell Park.
    For the first time, thousands of eggs were dropped, appropriately by an “eggbeater”-type helicopter, in addition to thousands of eggs already scattered on the grass below. Together, they numbered about 10,000, according to Erin Moore, Richmond Parks and Recreation director.

    April 20, 2014 12 Photos

  • City awaits funds for Water Street project

    Richmond city officials are still awaiting word on grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Water Street drainage project.
    However, Mayor Jim Barnes said he is confident the money should come through by May 1.

    April 20, 2014

  • Kitcarson1.jpg Elementary schools built in ‘60s getting upgrades

    Renovation of three Madison County elementary schools built in Richmond during the 1960s will start this summer.
    The county school board voted Thursday to continue with the second phase of state paperwork required for the projects.
    With a target completion date of August 2015, renovations and alterations at Daniel Boone, Kit Carson and White Hall elementary schools are estimated to cost almost $12 million.

    April 20, 2014 9 Photos

  • KY 52 link to I-75 to be discussed May 13

    While a proposed link from Nicholasville to Exit 95 on Interstate 75 north of Richmond has garnered attention and organized opposition, the state also is developing plans to link I-75 to another community to the west.

    April 20, 2014

  • May 30 last school day for students

    After 16 snows days and two weather delays this winter, the Madison County School Board decided Thursday to end the school year on Friday, May 30.

    April 19, 2014

  • 4-19 TechExtra1.jpg Students showcase projects in Technology Extravaganza

    Madison County School students showed off just how tech savvy they can be during the district’s sixth annual Technology Extravaganza on Thursday at Madison Central High School. After the showcase, more than 350 students were honored for their work.

    April 19, 2014 7 Photos

  • 4-19 SchoolBoardJesseWard.jpg Ward honored for service; tech center named after him

    Retired Madison County educator Jesse Ward was recognized Thursday for his many years of service. To honor him, Superintendent Elmer Thomas announced the board’s decision to rename the district’s technology training center on North Second Street in Richmond the Jesse P. Ward Technology and Training Center.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Brian Smith.jpg Berea man indicted on 24 child porn counts

    A Madison grand jury has indicted a Berea man on 24 counts related to child pornography.

    Brian J. Smith, 26, is charged with four counts of distribution and 20 counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by a minor.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 Gregory Powell.jpg Police apprehend burglary suspect

    An observant witness was able to help Richmond police catch a burglary suspect shortly after a break-in Thursday afternoon on Savanna Drive off Berea Road.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 PackTrack1a.jpg Walkers, runners of every age ‘Pack the Track’

    Waco Elementary and Model Laboratory schools students raised more than $8,000 (and counting) for the annual Pack the Track event at Eastern Kentucky University’s Tom Samuels Track Thursday, said Kim DeCoste of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition.

    April 18, 2014 14 Photos

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results