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drop-outs

March 25, 2022 - 11:38pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, oakfield-alabama, drop-outs, education, notify, schools.

New York State’s high school drop-out rate has declined in recent years, to an all-time low of 5.6 percent, USAfacts.org says.

Still, nobody wants to see students drop out, even if it’s only one or two, as is the case at Oakfield-Alabama Central, Superintendent John Fisgus said during the district’s recent board meeting.

“We hate losing these kids at the last minute. They usually drop out by 17, as a junior, and they only have one year to go,” he said. “We want to see these kids leave with a high school diploma.”

He consulted with other school districts, including Batavia City Schools and Pembroke Central, about setting a legal drop-out requirement to age 17 for Oakfield-Alabama’s district, which has a legal age of 16 currently. The feedback from both schools led him to his proposal to the board: raise the legal drop-out age to 17.

“There were no negatives,” Fisgus said. “The board has the right to make it 17.”

A board member asked how many students this change would affect, and the answer was “maybe one or two.” But, according to the American Psychological Association, dropouts face “extremely bleak economic and social prospects” from not having a high school diploma. National statistics from 2012 showed more than 1 million high school students not graduating and earning that prized diploma. 

Those dropouts, compared to high school grads, are also less likely to find a job and earn a living wage, APA.org stated. 

“Poverty and dropouts are inextricably connected in the three primary settings affecting healthy child and adolescent development: families, schools and communities,” it stated.

Batavia City Schools not only has the higher age limit but also recently touted a 96 percent graduation rate and various educational and career-related activities being offered to upper-level high school students. Pembroke’s graduation rate is 92 percent, and both are higher than the state’s average of 86 percent. August 2021 data reported Oakfield-Alabama’s rate to be 86 percent. 

The remaining districts in Genesee County include Alexander Central, at 95 percent; Byron-Bergen at 98 percent; Elba at 80 percent; Le Roy at 90 percent; and Pavilion at 83 percent.

Lake Shore High School in Erie County made a move similar to Oakfield-Alabama in 2020, citing an 11 percent dropout rate. The school board adopted a new policy that would force students to remain in school until the end of the year in which they turn 17. The only exception is if they have a full-time job.

New York State law was revised in 2019 to extend the option, initially open to larger cities such as Buffalo and New York City, to rural and suburban districts. State law also exempts students who have full-time jobs.

Should Oakfield-Alabama’s board approve this policy change — something that “affects students and families to this extent” — families would be notified through ParentSquare, the district’s communication platform, Fisgus said. 

Board votes can take a while, however, since the group is entitled to up to three readings of a policy before taking a vote. This particular policy change has an expected timeline of approval in April, he said.

“We discussed it as an administrative team, and I am in full support of such a change moving forward,” he said.

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