Updated: School districts will have the option of raising the minimum age when students can drop out to 18 under legislation that on Monday cleared both the Kentucky House and Senate—which may lead to statewide implementation in the future.
The approved bill is a compromise reached after past efforts to strike a deal failed.
The dropout bill allows local school boards to choose whether to raise the dropout age to 18. After 55 percent of Kentucky’s school boards raise the drop out limit, the change in four years becomes mandatory statewide.
Supporters of raising the age hope to have the increased drop out age become mandatory by 2019.
State Rep. Jeff Greer, a Brandenburg Democrat and the House’s point man on dropout issue, called the compromise a victory.
“I view this as a tremendous victory for our state, we’re sending a message to our young people,” Greer said.
The Senate is likely to agree to the compromise, sending a dropout bill to Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk for the first time in the five years the governor has pushed the issue.
But some supporters, such as state Rep. Reggie Meeks, a Democrat from Louisville, wished the bill made the age mandatory immediately.
“But I just want us to understand we are backing into this decision when we should be pushing our state forward in terms of our educational standards,” he said.
The House passed the bill 88-10. The Senate passed the bill 33-5.
The dropout age increase legislation now goes to Beshear.
After the legislation’s passage, Beshear sent this Twitter message: