Butler County schools are not part of ‘drop-out factories’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2008

The answer is no.

Butler County’s Public Schools System had no schools included on the list of 42 Alabama schools identified as &uot;dropout factories&uot; by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

A high school where no more than 60 percent of their students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year gained the dubious classification.

The nationwide analysis of data compiled by the U.S. Education Department found nearly 1,700 regular or vocational high schools, or 12 percent of the country’s schools, fit the description., In Alabama, 42 schools were cited.

Mike Looney, superintendent of Butler schools, was pleased but not surprised area schools avoided the list.

&uot;Our board members,&uot; he explained, &uot;made dropout prevention a top priority when crafting our strategic plan. Since the plan’s implementation, we have worked diligently to put processes in place to identify and support students at risk of dropping out.&uot;

That doesn’t mean local school leaders aren’t concerned. While the dropout rate here fell six points last year, it still remains high at 31 percent.

&uot;It is an extremely complex issue,&uot; Looney continued, &uot;and the data is highly volatile. It’s all about building relationships and relevancy. Kids will feel good about going to school if they feel welcome, wanted and worthwhile. When that happens, they just might stay.&uot;

Eleven of the 42 schools were in Mobile, Baldwin and Conecuh counties.

Generally, the national dropout rate registered near the 30 percent mark, but recent statistics, released by the Alabama Department of Education, show the four-year projected state dropout rate to be 11.18 percent.