2:35pm

Mon January 23, 2012
State Capitol

Higher Drop-Out Ages Likely

After years of trying, a proposal to raise Kentucky’s school dropout age could be on track to becoming law. The measure is a key part of Governor Steve Beshear’s legislative agenda. But every year it has died in the state Senate as critics say the bill isn’t enough to help uninterested students.

 That trend may be reversing this year. Senate Education Chairman Ken Winters says the dropout bill now has its best chance yet to pass both chambers, due to a draft of the measure in the Senate that adds alternative and technical education to appeal to students who would otherwise drop out.

“We’re discussing that right now and there may be an initiative coming out shortly in here that would be a slightly different approach to it,” says Winters. “We would want to make sure that before implementation there is an available alternative experience. [It] doesn’t have to be called an alternative school but they need some kind of option.”

Beshear signaled openness to the additions in his State of the Commonwealth address. The current House bill does not include such measures and its sponsor, Representative Jeff Greer has said he believes it should be dealt with in a different bill. But he hasn't closed the door on it.

Supporters want to raise the dropout age from 16 to 18 years old. So far this year, the measure has only passed a House committee.