For some Kentucky school districts, the check is in the mail. The state Department of Education is sending out this week $10,000 grants to 53 school systems that have raised the high school dropout age.
The grant money will go toward programs to prevent students from leaving high school without a diploma and to enact the new policy for the 2015-16 school year, which is the first year the policy can be fully implemented. The department made similar grants last year to the first group of districts to raise the dropout age.
At the urging of Governor Beshear, the 2013 General Assembly passed a bill raising the compulsory school age from 16 to 18. Under the measure, once 55 percent of the 173 school districts in the state, approved the change, the rest would have to follow suit. The requirement was met just two weeks after the law took effect.
“I would encourage the remaining 24 districts that have not yet taken action to raise the compulsory school age to 18, to do so immediately,” said Commissioner Terry Holliday. “It is vital that districts plan for implementation of this new policy and waiting will only put them at a disadvantage and deprive students who do drop out in the meantime of the opportunity to get the help they need to become college/career-ready.”
Holliday said the department would try to provide the same $10,000 grants to the remaining districts.
Starting in 2017-18 academic year, all Kentucky districts will be required to keep students in school until they turn 18 or graduate.