Tribune-Courier News Editor
DRAFFENVILLE — A new Kentucky law may raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18.
According to the law that was SB 97, school districts may increase the age by a vote of the board of education.
Once 55 percent of public school districts across the state raise the dropout age, the other 45 percent of districts must then raise their dropout age.
Ian Holt, 22, of Calvert City is a student at the Marshall County Adult Education Center’s GED program. He said he stopped doing classwork in a homeschool setting around age 14 due to a heart defect. With the inability to work, he saw little value in education at the time.
“The new law would have forced me to do my work,” Holt said. “I regret dropping out now. Just because I can’t get a normal job doesn’t mean I can’t better myself or find something to do.”
Holt said by remaining in education longer, he would be better prepared for his GED or would have graduated.
“People who drop out for the sake of dropping out may need to stay in school longer. There will be a time in their lives when they regret it. I know I did,” Holt said.
Marshall County Schools Superintendent Trent Lovett said the Board of Education has not had an opportunity to review the new law.
“I can’t really comment one way or another, except to say everyone in education wants to keep students in education as long as possible,” Lovett said. “I can’t say what Marshall County Schools will do until we have an opportunity to meet with the board and look at the pros and cons.”
Lovett said Marshall County High School boasts an 80 percent graduation rate, slightly above state averages. The graduation rate measures the number of Kentucky freshmen that started high school and obtain a diploma in four years. He said it does not factor students who move out of state and complete their education elsewhere or complete their education in a home school setting.
“We might be looking at 90 percent, if not for the other factors,” Lovett said. “The majority of dropouts are probably under 18. Sometimes kids have to drop out to work for their parents to make ends meet. Sometimes there is a new child in the picture and they have to support their families. These are the biggest reasons we hear when students drop out.”
Other students get frustrated with classwork. Lovett said a benefit of the new law could be that more students will realize they have a choice of suffering through two more years or getting serious about their education and finishing their last years of school.
“Will it be more expensive? Obviously it will cost more,” Lovett said. “That’s what we’re in business to do, providing education. We hope more students will see the value of an education and get a diploma.”