Dueling School Dropout Bills in Ky. Legislature

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Meade County Democrat Rep. Jeff Greer says he won’t give up on getting his school dropout prevention bill passed. This is the fourth consecutive year he has championed a bill to gradually raise the legal school dropout age from 16 to 18.

Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear are behind Greer’s bill. In sessions past, Mrs. Beshear has given a full-throated endorsement of the bill in committee. In his State of the Commonwealth Address on February 6th, the Governor said the “graduation bill” is a big priority. “Every Kentucky school district now has alternative and support programs available for students at risk of dropping out,” said Beshear. “We just have to keep them in school and take advantage of these programs. Every education group supports this legislation, and now a new survey reveals that 85 percent of parents favor it,” he added. Like the Governor, Rep. Greer believes this is the year to get it done. Greer talked about how times have changed since the original law was passed.

Nearly 6,000 kids in Kentucky dropout of school each year. The bill ups the legal dropout age in stages. In July 2017, it rises to 17. In July 2018, it will go up to 18. Senator Jimmy Higdon has a companion school dropout measure in the upper chamber that’s still waiting for committee action. Shelbyville Republican Brad Montell voted in favor of the bill on the House floor last Thursday, but seized the opportunity – as he’d done on numerous occasions before – to vocalize an educational issue he’s been urging the chamber to seriously consider — charter schools.

After about 30 minutes of floor debate, the bill to gradually raise the school dropout age to 18 by the year 2018 cleared the Kentucky House on a vote of 87 to 10. It now heads to the Senate for consideration there, where a competing school dropout bill is in the Senate chamber cache.

Green County Republican David Givens has a bill that was green-lighted by the Senate education committee on the same day the Democratic-controlled House advanced Greer’s bill.
Givens’ Senate Bill 97 would allow, not mandate, local school boards to require kids to stay in school until they turn 18.

Givens’ measure cleared the Senate education committee and now waits for action by the entire Senate chamber.

Tune in each weeknight at 11pm ET on KET for a recap of the day’s activities in Frankfort on “Legislative Update.” And, follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for constant updates.

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