PARKERSBURG - Chris Rutherford, attendance director for Wood County School, told members of the Wood County Board of Education Tuesday the systems drop-out rates continue to decline.
According to Rutherford, the county had 65 students dropout in 2013, that's half the number from 2008. Rutherford cited a number of factors for the decline, including several alternative educational programs. Rutherford also cited the Innovation Zone grant that provides free tuition and transportation for summer school.
"Kids that most benefited from that were truancy and at-risk students," he said.
Photo by Jody Murphy
Chris Rutherford, center, attendance director for Wood County Schools, prepares to leave Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Education. Rutherford told the board of education the county’s drop-out rates continue to drop due to several programs and grants.
Rutherford said the summer school program is also preferred by the judicial system in dealing with youthful offenders. Studies show about 80 percent of prison inmates lack a basic high school education. Tutoring programs have been increased to pull kids out of elective classes to bring up core class scores, he said.
"No diploma or GED closes a lot of doors," Rutherford said.
Board members asked Rutherford what happens when the Innovation Zone grants expire. Rutherford said they will work to maintain some components, such as free tuition for summer school.
He said the school system has also implemented an exit strategy for kids who want to leave school.
"In the past, we were withdrawing students because they aren't showing up. Now we make them come in or (we) go to the home," he said.
Rutherford said educators try to map out GED, job training and placement programs, or (high school) graduate assistance programs.
"The purpose is post-educational planning for kids who want to leave," he said.
In addition to a decrease in dropouts, Rutherford also noted attendance rates are improving. He said school system students that missed 10 days or less all passed the WESTEST.
Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law also presented a proposal to deal with disruptive elementary school students. He's seeking to hire a behavior support liaison to direct the program and teachers in homebound placement.
Law said at a recent state meeting the issue was brought up by another school system; "kids with issues, acting out violently in schools for a number of reasons," he said.
"This is happening in every large county."
The liaison is to replace a position that was vacated after the employee was promoted to an assistant principal.
Law said the liaison idea is not a long-term solution. It will provide training and information to teachers and staff on techniques to deal with highly disruptive students.
"We want to give everyone the best education we can in regular school if possible," Law said. "If that doesn't work, we move this out and work with teachers, schools and everyone involved."
The item was not slated for action by the board.
"I can see this helping parents as much as children," board member Lawrence Hasbargen said.