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Douglas dropout rate still declining

by Merrie Leininger

The Douglas County School District is trying to spread the word – it has a low dropout rate that continues to decline.

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Roy Casey said he even gets questions while at the doctor’s office.

“I told her, ‘Well, no, we actually have a very low dropout rate. I have all the numbers. It is not a high number. If you ask the surrounding counties, you will see Douglas County actually has one of the lowest dropout rates,'” Casey told the Douglas County School Board Tuesday night.

Casey said the 1999-2000 school year saw a dropout rate of 2.7 percent – 16 freshmen, seven sophomores, 11 juniors and 26 seniors for a total of 60 district-wide. The year before, the district had a dropout rate of 4.1 percent, a total of 91 students. This year’s is the lowest rate the school district has had since it started keeping records in 1993-94.

“We believe there are less numbers dropping out because of the interventions we put in place,” Casey said. “If students are in danger of failing or having trouble passing the state proficiency exam, we have summer school and interventions before and after school. We feel pretty proud our dropout rate has been reduced.”

The individual schools review their dropout rates and review options to decrease the number. Attendance personnel, the counseling staff and administrators follow up with non-returning students to determine if they are dropouts or if they are enrolled in another school or completed their education in alternative ways, such as obtaining a GED.

The highest rate the district had since keeping records was in 1997-98 when the state required the districts to count students who did not return to school in the fall unless it had documentation they were in another school. The next year, the state reversed that decision and also declared any student who received his or her GED would not be counted as a dropout. No changes to the way dropouts are counted were made this year.

DHS has a lower rate than Whittell High School, although many more students left.

In 1999-00, WHS had a 5.3 percent dropout rate, but only 14 students left the school. DHS had a rate of 3.3 percent, with a loss of 46 students. That number was down from the previous year, when DHS lost 72 students.