Our Opinion

Published 8:34 am Friday, August 31, 2007

By Staff
Grant to help lower area dropout rate
One of the biggest challenges high schools in Escambia County face is the dropout rate. For W.S. Neal and Escambia County high schools, the graduation rate was a factor in those schools' not achieving Adequate Yearly Progress the past two years for state academic standards.
So school officials from both the Brewton City and Escambia County districts have taken a pro-active approach to the problem: Baxter Baker of the city schools and his counterpart Donna Revel in the county schools jointly applied for a state grant to help fight the dropout rate.
Their efforts landed them $150,000 last week from the state Department of Education.
The four high schools in Escambia County, W.S. Neal, T.R. Miller, Flomaton and Escambia County, combined have approximately 1,779 students in grades 9-12. The average county dropout rate is 15.82 percent, which exceeds the state projected dropout rate of 11.18 percent.
School officials hope to use the grant to hire a dropout prevention specialist, one who will catch students before they make the decision to drop out of school.
Boosting the number of graduates from all of our area high schools is essential to helping our entire community as we battle for economic success in a changing world. We have even seen recently that companies like Georgia-Pacific, the new owner of Brewton's container mill, require a high school diploma or GED as a condition of hiring.
That may not have been a problem in the past, but now it is not an unreasonable request. We need all of our young people to get the best education possible, and keeping them in school is the best way to do that.
We look forward to seeing the results of this grant.