Ninety-six school boards across Kentucky have voted to raise the high school dropout age. The 96 districts put Kentucky at the 55% threshold needed to make the higher age mandatory statewide within four years.
A news release from the governor's office, dubbed the so-called 'Blitz to 96' a success.
“After five years of hard work by Commissioner Holliday, the First Lady and others to implement raising the compulsory graduation age to 18, I am overwhelmed by the support our school boards have shown by racing to adopt this policy,” said Gov. Beshear. “We know that keeping our students in school will not only offer them a better future, but will ensure that Kentucky has a better-trained, better-prepared workforce that will benefit the state for decades to come."
Legislation approved in this year's Kentucky General Assembly made adoption of the higher dropout age voluntary until 55 percent—or 96—of the state’s school districts adopt the policy. Since that threshold has been reached, the remainder of Kentucky’s 173 districts must now adopt the policy no later than the 2017-18 school year.
Kentucky is inching closer to a mandatory increase in the dropout age for public school students. As of Tuesday, 92 school districts had adopted the new minimum dropout age of 18, leaving the state only four districts shy of the number needed to make the higher age mandatory statewide.
"And once we reach 96, that would be the 55 percent we need for the policy to go statewide within four years," said Kentucky Education Department Spokesman Nancy Rodriguez.
Rodriguez adds that school boards that voted on raising their dropout ages Monday night are expected to have mailed their documentation to Frankfort Tuesday. Once that paperwork gets to Frankfort, it could push the state over the 55 percent threshold.
Kentucky lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that allowed each school district to hold a vote on raising the dropout age to 18. The law also says that if 55 percent of school districts adopted the new dropout age, it would became policy statewide.
In the first 48 hours since a new law took effect, 54 school districts in Kentucky have voted to raise the high school dropout age to 18.
Ninety-six districts need to act in order for the higher age to become mandatory statewide. Already halfway there, Governor Steve Beshear says he's confident the goal will be met by the end of the year.
For those districts that do act early, Beshear says they'll receive $10,000 grants to implement programs for students at risk of dropping out.
"Virtually every student I know who drops out doesn't do so because they just don't want to be there or they're just not smart enough to do the work," suggests Beshear. "They drop out because they're just not interested. We haven't found a way to prick their interest in completing an education."
Senate Bill 97, known as the “Graduate Kentucky” bill, passed this year and phases in an increase in the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18, amending the school attendance law created in 1934.
The Warren County Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18. School Board Chairman Kerry Young says it was simply the right thing to do.
"We are in the business of educating kids and this gives up the opportunity if we have someone struggling to have them in the system at least two more years to be able to get them either college or career ready," Young remarks.
School systems all over the state are quickly voting to raise the dropout age, which qualifies them for $10,000 in grant money. Taylor and Simpson counties also approved the higher age this week, as well as the Bowling Green city school system.
Under a new state law, once 96 of Kentucky's 176 school districts act, the higher age becomes mandatory statewide. Governor Steve Beshear told WKU Public Radio Wednesday that he's confident the 55% threshold will be met by the end of the year.
Kentucky is among the most rapidly improving states in the nation when it comes to closing the achievement gap in schools.
Kentucky recorded better than expected gains in student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act in a new national study.
The findings are among those in a recently released national study "The New State Achievement Gap: How Federal Waivers Could Make It Worse – Or Better" by Education Sector.
The study compares student gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 2003-11 in grades 4 and 8, reading and math for all students. Kentucky students recorded an overall gain of 28.2 points. That is better than the national average gain of 20 points.
Kentucky charted the fourth highest gains in the country behind Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
The WKU Board of Regents has passed a nearly $394 million budget for the 2013-14 academic year. In a special meeting Friday, regents voted 7-2 for the spending plan that raises tuition three percent. Resident undergraduate tuition will increase $250 per year to $8,582.
Chief Financial Officer Ann Mead said that while the $393,959,000 budget has increased 1.4 percent, building the budget was challenging.
“In order to fund projected fixed costs and ongoing commitments, the administration is implementing a budget balancing plan of more than $2.1 million,” she said.
WKU President Gary Ransdell praised the unified effort across campus to achieve a balanced budget in a trying financial climate.
Faculty Regent Patty Minter cast one of the dissenting votes over a capital project. The budget calls for issuing bonds for construction of a $22 million building for the Honors College and International Student Services.
"It is very risky to take on more bond debt for a long-term project which, while very much a want, is not a need," said Minter.
Forty-six percent of the budget revenue comes from student tuition and fees. State funding makes up only 18 percent of the WKU budget.
Rob Clayton was chosen unanimously this week by the Warren County Board of Education to become the next superintendent of the public school district. He comes from South Oldham Middle School in Crestwood, Kentucky where he served as principal the past seven years. Lisa Autry spoke with him.
What attracted you to this job?
I was mainly attracted to the position because of the people, the quality of the students, staff, and school community. There's a tremendous reputation out there in the state that's certainly well-deserved and I was aware the school board was committed to high levels of achievement and continuous improvement. That certainly gives me great confidence in our ability to excel.
You just completed your 20th year in education. Talk about how your past experiences brought you to where you are today.
I began in 1993 as a high school science teacher and coached football and track and field at Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Jefferson County. I was attracted to being a teacher primarily because previous teachers I had and their influence on me. I feel fortunate to be able to say that I've rarely worked a day in my life in education because I truly enjoy working with kids, watching them grow, and helping them find the opportunities I think all kids deserve. Most recently, I've had the opportunity to be have a larger influence on my students from an administrative standpoint (as principal of South Oldham Middle School).
The incoming president of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents says he fully backs efforts to increase the state's dropout age to 18.
Simpson County Superintendent Jim Flynn told WKU Public Radio he thinks some kids drop out because they know they aren't going to college. But Flynn believes the state is starting to do a better of identifying ways to help those not going into postsecondary education.
"Now that the state is focusing on multiple pathways into career and college readiness, it gives some students that may feel a little left out when the focus was simply on college readiness and proficiency only," says Flynn.
Flynn takes over as head of the state's Association of School Superintendents at the group's summer meeting this week in Bowling Green.
Future of Education Funding?
Flynn is hopeful that the state's improving economic outlook will boost chances for increased education funding.
The WKU Board of Regents will vote on the school’s next budget at a meeting Friday afternoon. The nearly $394 million spending plan for 2013-14 is a 1.4 percent increase over last year’s budget.
If approved, 46 percent of the revenue used to run WKU would come from tuition and student fees. Only 18 percent of the proposed budget comes from state funding.
The budget vote comes after several tumultuous months on the WKU campus. In April, the Council on Postsecondary Education rejected President Gary Ransdell’s request for a 5 percent tuition increase, granting just a 3 percent hike. Ransdell told WKU faculty and staff that the decision meant the school was going to have to cut jobs.
The Warren County Public School system has a new superintendent.
The Warren County Board of Education Tuesday night named Rob Clayton to succeed the retiring Tim Murley. Clayton has been the principal of South Oldham Middle School in Crestwood, KY for the past seven years. He's been in education for 20 years including the past 13 in administration.
Clayton says his three main goals are insuring the safety of students, assuring all students learn at a high level and that all graduates are ready for college or a career.
Clayton was one of three finalist the Warren County board interviewed. Board Chairman Kerry Young said Clayton stood out because of his leadership qualities.