FRANKFORT, Ky. - Changing the high school dropout age from 16 to 18 is a legislative priority once again for the Kentucky Board of Education. During their regular meeting Wednesday, board members approved a legislative agenda for the upcoming session that starts in January.
Previous attempts to change the dropout age have been unsuccessful because of questions about how alternative education programs to help at-risk students would be funded.
“As with many bills, we get a running try. We hope this will be the year for that. And we’re working very closely with the Governor’s office, as that’s one of their top priorities as well this session,” said Dept. of Education General Counsel Kevin Brown.
The higher dropout age bill also has the support of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
The legislation would have an estimated fiscal impact of $24 million, 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.”
Kentucky’s high school graduation rate is currently around 78 percent. Officials estimate that around 6,500 Kentucky students leave high school each year without their diploma.