Schools receive $150,000 to help prevent dropouts

Published 5:50 am Wednesday, February 13, 2008

By Staff
Pathways program
offers new avenues
toward course credit
Staff Writer
On the heels of a state report detailing rising dropout and suspension rates statewide, Beaufort County Schools is announcing a new program to help its at-risk students make the grade.
In Beaufort County, 145 students dropped out of school during the 2006-2007 school year, an increase of 11 dropouts from the previous school year, according to a report presented Thursday to the State Board of Education. It was the highest dropout rate for the county in three years. The hike in the county’s dropout rate ended a decline in students quitting school between the 2004-2005 school year and last year, when the rate fell from 6.84 percent to 5.69 percent respectively.
The schools’ administration hopes a new, state-funded program beginning next year will help keep students on track for graduation.
The school system is set to receive $150,000 in state grant funding to begin the Pathways Program to provide at-risk students with an alternate route to earn academic credit. The program will include both one-on-one instruction and computer-based curriculum. Through the program, the school system will offer online credit recovery, two-way interactive teleconferencing and web-based instruction, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Web site.
Beaufort County Board of Education Chairman Robert Belcher said the program would focus mainly on helping ninth- and 10th-graders get up to speed with course credit. When the Beaufort County Alternative School moves to the former John Small Elementary School building next school year, the new program will be housed with it. Belcher said Moss was eying about 100 students for the voluntary program.
Beaufort County requires 28 course units for graduation as compared with the 21-unit state requirement. Belcher said the school system may waive some of the unit requirements as part of the initiative to graduate more students. The program will also include a vocational component, he said.
In late January, the General Assembly awarded $7 million in state grants to 60 groups across North Carolina, including school systems, universities and educational foundations, to help efforts to reduce the number of dropouts in the state. More than 300 such groups applied for the grants, which range in size from $25,000 to $150,000.
Recipients were chosen by the recently formed Committee on Dropout Prevention, formed as part of an initiative by the Legislature to help improve high school graduation rates in North Carolina.
Beaufort, Martin and Hyde counties each experienced higher rates of public-school dropouts during the 2006-2007 school year than the previous three school years. Beaufort County had 145 students drop out last year, up from 134 the previous school year, for a rate of 6.16 percent. Martin County had 81 students drop out or 6.17 percent, up from 73 in 2005-2006. Twelve students dropped out of Hyde County Schools, five more than quit school the previous year.
Only one student dropped out of school in Hyde County during the 2004-2005 school year, according to the report.