drop out bill

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Caldwell County School officials are waiting to increase the district's minimum dropout age because the district is not prepared to implement a program to prevent students from dropping out past the age of 16.

More than 100 districts have increased their dropout age to 18 voluntarily, in part, to receive a $10-thousand incentive from the Commonwealth.

In four years, Kentucky students won't be able to drop out of school until they're 18.

It appears that enough Kentucky school districts have, or plan to back increasing the compulsory dropout age from 16 to 18 to put the state over the threshold needed to make the change mandatory statewide.

More than 20 school districts that have not yet acted on the policy are scheduled to meet this week, and WFPL has confirmed several of those districts plan to adopt the policy.

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Kentucky education commissioner Terry Holliday says the first 57 school districts that raise their dropout age from 16 to 18 will be given a $10,000 state grant.

Holliday made the announcement Wednesday during a state Board of Education meeting in Frankfort. Just before the announcement, board members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution urging Kentucky's 174 school districts to raise the dropout age as soon as possible.

The debate over the Kentucky law allowing 16 year olds to drop out of high school with parental permission is coming up again in this year's legislative session. Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife, Jane, along with a bevy of education officials, say lawmakers should support a bill that would gradually raise the legal dropout age from 16 to 18. It has failed in past sessions.

Three of the chief opponents to raising the dropout age in Kentucky will not return to Frankfort next year. But that doesn't mean a dropout bill is likely to pass in the next legislative session. Currently, state law allows 16-year-olds to drop out of school with parental permission.

But education advocates want the law changed to eliminate all loopholes and require dropouts to be 18 or older. With a new education chairman and new leadership in the Senate, those advocates are hopeful this will be their year.