Ralph B. Davisrdavis@civitasmedia.com
March 12, 2013
FRANKFORT — School districts in Kentucky will be allowed to raise the minimum dropout age for their students under legislation that cleared the Kentucky General Assembly Monday.
Senate Bill 97, sponsored by Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, will allow local school districts across the state to increase the compulsory attendance age to 18 for their students beginning in the 2015 school year. Currently Kentucky students may drop out of high school at the age of 16.
Prior to raising the dropout age, the bill will require schools to have programs and resources in place for students at-risk for not completing their high school education. School districts would also be required to apply to and receive approval from the Kentucky Department of Education.
Sen. Givens commended the work of multiple lawmakers and public leaders, including the Governor and First Lady, for years of discussion of the compulsory attendance age to reach what he called meaningful compromise.
“It’s apparent to me that [this] is going to be the best policy we can subscribe to as a state,” he said.
The Senate agreed to a change to the bill made by the House of Representatives to require the increased compulsory attendance age to become mandatory statewide four years after 55 percent of Kentucky school districts have adopted the change. Supporters say this will allow local schools to make decisions based on their needs while also promoting uniformity in school districts across the state.
“I do think this is a practical, commonsense approach to deal with an issue that is very important to our school systems and the educational attainment of our children,” Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville said.
Senate Bill 97 was approved 33-5 by the Senate and now goes to the governor for his consideration.