WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- More New Hanover County students are staying in school instead of dropping out. The school district says the 23.4 percent decrease in the overall dropout rate is a big step in the right direction.
"We're really happy about the fact that we're able to make such a big jump in one year," Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday said.
School officials learned Thursday that 295 students dropped out last year compared to the 385 students in the previous academic year. Although they say it's not perfect, they believe it is a step in the right direction.
"We have a significant fewer number of drop-outs than we had last year. We hope this is a trend. We want it to be a trend. We do not want this to be a blip on the radar screen. We want to see the trend continue downward," Dr. Holliday said.
Parents of students at Ashley High School say they understand the social issues and pressures that their students undergo at school, but they also say those issues are taking a backseat now and that these numbers are not lying.
"When I was in school and in the next few years later there seemed to be a lot more kids dropping out, but with my daughters and all their friends, they all graduated," parent Donna Mullen said. "It's a great group of parents out here."
Parents we talked with said reasons for the decrease in drop-outs include a better administration and less bullying in schools. Students at Ashley say the guidance of their teachers and principal makes the difference.
"The school gets on track with every student," Ashley student Megan Mullen said. "They will have personal meetings with one another, and they have really good programs like for anger management. Anything like this in school to keep them on track."
Despite the improvement, administrators say one student dropping out is still one too many.
New Hanover County's drop-out rate is 3.83 percent. That's slightly better than the statewide rate of 4.0 percent.