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Local high school dropout rates on the rise

WILMINGTON -- Statewide numbers show dropout rates among high school students have been increasing every year since 2002. State education officials are meeting in Raleigh to determine how to fund a program dedicated to preventing future dropouts. Over the next two days a dropout prevention committee will decide how to distribute a $7 million grant to help public schools and community non-profits keep students on the path to graduation. In the 2005-2006 school year alone more than 22,000 dropouts were reported statewide -- that's a rate of 5.04 percent. School officials from New Hanover and Brunswick Counties have already applied for grant assistance to continue funding dropout prevention programs they have in place. Brunswick County Director of Education Deanne Medows says there are a number of reasons why teens choose to dropout. Medows said, "Most of your students that are dropping out they start to show some issues early on, even in elementary schools, with attendance issues they start to get a little discouraged about school or have some behavior issues so that's when we have to start looking for some ways to get them focused back on school." The unofficial 2006-2007 numbers New Hanover County recorded more than 400 students who dropped out. In Brunswick County there were more than 200, and there were more than 100 in Pender County. The official dropout rates for the 2006-2007 school year are expected to be released by next month, including how those numbers compare to previous years. If the committee does approve more funding for local dropout prevention programs, they could stand to gain around one hundred $50 each. That would pay for more supplies, buses and teachers.

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