Commonwealth Journal

Local News

March 24, 2013

Somerset schools ahead of dropout legislation

City already has program in place to encourage students to graduate at 18


Somerset —

“We have seen a lot of results,” said Cornett. “We saw a lot of students graduate last year who would not have graduated without that.”
So how does Cornett and other SHS staffers bring students back into the fold? 
Easy. They contact them, either by phone or by home visitation.
“We’ve gone to students’ homes and asked kids to come back,” said Cornett. “ ... We ask them ‘How can we meet your needs? How can we get you back?’”
Many students have responded positively, and Cornett said it’s been “a blessing” to see the success stories.
“We’ve been very pleased with (the program),” said Cornett. “We know for a fact they would not have graduated without that, because (the students) even told me so.”
Randolph said the Somerset School System, with only one high school, is a bit more small-scale, and he said it’s easier for teachers and administrators to make one-on-one contact with students and their families. 
“That’s the beauty of our community,” said Randolph, “we know each other.
“It’s not a big obstacle to overcome to make home visits,” added Randolph. 
Randolph said the Somerset School Board will discuss the new law in an upcoming workshop meeting, and from there they’ll decide how to implement the new requirements. One reason the law isn’t mandatory right away is due to criticism that school districts may not be equipped to offer alternative
education to students facing academic difficulty or failure, some of whom often display accompanying behavior problems.
Cornett and Randolph both said Somerset is fortunate because it has a smaller student population. The financial impact for Somerset is smaller than it would be for a larger school district. 
Fayette County Schools has already taken steps to adhere to the new law, a quick decision that has that district leading the way in the transition. Randolph said larger school districts would do well to make the change now and make sure the program is viable and make changes before the law becomes mandatory.

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