Dozens of Kentucky high schools raise dropout age

KENTUCKY (FOX19) - A bill aimed at raising the high school dropout age in Kentucky is seeing a fast response from districts across the Commonwealth.

So far, 54 of the 174 school districts have already voted to raise the dropout age from 16 to 18 starting with the 2015-16 school year. Erlanger-Elsmere schools and Dayton Independent are the first two districts to do so in Northern Kentucky.

The Covington Independent school district voted to raise the dropout age to 18. The Kentucky Department of Education says they expected to have 50 states on board by August 1st, so this initiative is ahead of schedule.

It's called the "Blitz to 96"...once 96 or 55% of school districts in Kentucky vote to raise the dropout age, it would become a statewide requirement for everyone in four years.

"Just the way society is right now, if you don't have a high school diploma or an education you're not even going to be able to get a job at McDonalds here in a few years," said Kenneth Kidd.

Kenneth Kidd is a resident of Covington and he believes this is a great move for the school district because he has three kids of his own.

It would also help the community to know that the children have to stay in school until they're 18," said Kidd.

Ken Kippenbrock with Covington Independent Schools says their dropout rate has been pretty steady for the past several years at about 6%.

"We very actively pursue ways to engage kids and to keep them in school and this is one more tool in our tool belt to make sure that students stay with us," said Kippenbrock.

Kippenbrock says even though it can be a challenge to keep kids in school who may not want to be there, they're confident this policy change will work.

"We know what happens to students who drop out. We know what their rate of incarceration becomes, so it's very exciting for our community to know that we have this tool," he added.

Some believe the dropout age shouldn't change at all. We received a lot of feedback on our Fox19 Facebook page. Scott says some of the most successful names in history were dropouts, Olivia doesn't think it will work, and David believes if they raise the age, it will only make it worse on the teachers and other students.

"If you don't let the kid drop out at the same time they're going to start skipping and things like that so it's still going to be a problem with court issues," said Sam Williams.

When a student skips and they're below the dropout age, the school has to file court motions that involve the student's parents.

"It's actually hurting the whole household when one child doesn't go to school," said Kidd.

There is incentive for school districts to adopt this policy. The KDE says the first 96 departments to raise the dropout age get a $10,000 planning grant. More districts are expected to be added to the list.

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