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Wed., Feb. 11, 2009, 11:44 a.m.

Bill to raise dropout age killed

The House Education Committee has voted 9-8 against a bill proposed by Rep. Rich Jarvis, R-Meridian, to raise the high school dropout age from 16 to 18. “This committee is pretty well split,” said House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene. Click below to read the full report from AP reporter Sarah Wire.

Idaho dropout age bill stalls in House committee
Associated Press Writer

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A divided House committee on Wednesday killed a plan to increase the age when students can drop out of high school from 16 to 18.

Although several state education groups spoke in favor of the bill, the House Education Committee voted 9-8 against advancing the measure that sponsor Rep. Rich Jarvis, R-Meridian, said would keep children in school longer.

The state Department of Education had estimated the proposal could cost about $11 million, based on the estimated 1,890 students who dropped out of grades nine through 12 last year and how much it would have cost to keep them.

Rep. Pete Nielsen, R- Mountain Home, told the committee it is better to provide students with educational choices such as alternative schools than to force them to attend traditional classes.

"Are we willing to save a few kids with compulsion?" Nielsen said.

Nielsen said many Idaho schools already offer education options for students who may not be college bound, such as alternative schools, early graduation and work force training.

The bill's supporters argued that a 16-year-old doesn't have the mental capacity to make such a large decision.

Linda Clark, superintendent of Meridian Joint School District No. 2, said alternative programs are a good place to turn, but it is important to raise the drop out age first.

"If students didn't have the option of an early out they'd look at those other alternative options," Clark told the committee.

The bill would have exempted students who graduate from high school or pass the general educational development, or GED, test before they turn 18.

Eighteen states — California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin — already require students to stay in school until they are 18.

The committee's chairman, Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, said the state's dropout rate needs to be discussed by the Legislature.

"The committee is pretty well split but we do support the cause," Nonini said.


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.