At the regular school board meeting in June, Superintendent Tom Vernon presented his annual report on drop-outs, something he’s been doing since 2007. Back in 2008, 30 students dropped out, but the numbers went down in 2008 through 2010. In 2011, the numbers began to rise again, with 38 and 39 students dropping out in the 2011 and 2012 school years.
While there are as many reasons for why kids quit as there are those who make that choice, most fit into three broad categories. There are those who are behind in credits, don’t see the value in continuing, or simply would rather get a job, Vernon said.
While looking for additional patterns, one common theme became quickly apparent. The decision to drop out came around the time the student turned 16 years old, the age a student can leave school with parental permission.
“Leavers” is an important distinction, Vernon said.
“Some students think they can get their credits and diploma at BCA,” he said. “Nine did that this year. If they finish, they get a diploma from Great Bend High School through BCA.” However, some will go to BCA, and then reenter GBHS.
Three special education students withdrew this year. Two were 18 years old, and simply quit. The other, a 16-year old, re-enrolled at BCA.
Seven students that dropped out in this past year went on to get their GED.
Eight of the students were expelled this year. They are counted as dropouts.
“If we expel them, generally no other school will take them,” he said. “Usually, they are done. They can go to BCA, but many don’t.” Expelled student can re-enroll the following year, he added.
Some students just quit, Vernon said. Some of these are runaways as well. Sometimes, the district does not know what happened because they are unable to make contact with parents or guardians. Thankfully, there were none that fell into this category this year, he said.
“There’s not a kid that simply drops out that doesn’t get a meeting with the principal to see what they are losing and giving up before parents give permission,” he said. “If you drop out at 16, and decide to come back at 17, you can.” These students sometimes drop out again, and Vernon counts it again. “We don’t give up on a kid.”