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School Dropout Age Among Board of Education Legislative Priorities

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The state Board of Education has approved its legislative priorities for the 2013 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, and among the issues that will go before lawmakers is raising the school dropout age to 18. Current state law allows students to leave high school before graduation at age 16. The legislation, which has failed in previous sessions, would have an estimated fiscal impact of 24 million dollars to pay for more alternative education and dropout prevention programs. But board member Mary Gwen Wheeler says research from the Alliance for Excellent Education shows that’s far less than what dropouts cost the state in the long run.

“So there are savings. There’s a very sound analysis that’s been done by this national organization that estimates savings in prison costs, income supports, things of that nature that could be balanced there.”

Governor Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce also support raising the dropout age. Kentucky’s high school graduation rate is currently around 78 percent.

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