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County schools receive $150,000

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Dropout rates at Escambia County and Brewton City Schools are vigorously being fought, thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Department of Education.
With the funding provided to Escambia County schools through the Preparing Alabama Students for Success (PASS) initiative, attendance officer Donna Revel said the county hopes to provide a dropout prevention specialist.
"Basically Escambia County schools and Brewton City Schools launched an effort to combat dropout rates," Revel said. "Each year we keep noticing academic failure and students dropping out of school. With the employment of a dropout prevention specialist serving the four high schools, we will be able to pull from existing resources, develop new partnerships that positively engage youth in school and expand the best practices of existing programs in the county reaching the academics, social and emotional issues facing the students."
The four high schools in Escambia County, W.S. Neal, T.R. Miller, Flomaton and Escambia County, combined have approximately 1,779 students in grades 9-12. The average county dropout rate is 15.82 percent, which exceeds the state projected dropout rate of 11.18 percent.
Escambia County High School has only 78 percent graduation rate and has a projected dropout rate of 19.09 percent.
Revel said there are many reasons students drop out of school including:
Revel said the dropout prevention specialist will help the students before they decide to drop out of school.
"The dropout prevention specialist will work with students, school personnel and various agencies to address issues in keeping the child in school," Revel said. "Funding through the PASS initiative will allow the Escambia County Schools and the Brewton City Schools to unite with the community addressing specific strategies to reduce dropouts, collaboration with outside agencies and address the common issues we share in our county."
Revel said the students who are having problems in school are soon to have an anonymous method of fighting those battles through the Internet. Brewton City Schools already has this program in place and Escambia County Schools is working on picking it up.
"This will bridge the gap with students and administration," Revel said. "Students will report to various school officials anonymously through a Web-based messaging services. All middle and high schools will have this program."
The "Talk About It" Web-based service is used to combat harassment, intimidation, bullying and personal problems.
The Escambia County Board of Education is working on several methods of preventing dropouts in the area. Due to the $150,000 in grant money provided by the state of Alabama Department of Education, schools all across the state will be able to work on their dropout rates.
"Our number one priority must always be providing opportunities to ensure academic success for all students, including those who are struggling in the classroom," said state board of education member Stephanie Bell. "Once these programs are implemented, more students will remain in school as they are helped at an earlier age. With this success, Alabama will experience a boost in graduation rates as we continue to improve the quality of education."