Northeast's program coordinator, Pam Meeks, said offering those GED classes in area high schools not only helps students, but it also keeps state funding flowing into the schools.
As of April 5, the Northeast ABE/GED program had five 17-year-olds and a dozen 18-year-olds registered for 2009-2010 who live in Prentiss County. School districts lost revenue of more than $100,000 when those students dropped out.
Figures for the 2008-2009 school year for high-school-age GED students from Prentiss County were even higher: 11 16-year-olds; 32 17-year-olds; 38 18-year-olds, with lost revenue to the districts of more than $600,000.
Meeks gave the statistics as she presented a proposal to the Prentiss County school board to provide a GED Option within the school district. The option is available in all other school districts in Northeast's counties except one, including Alcorn, Tippah, Tishomingo and Union counties. Only Booneville and Prentiss County do not make the in-school GED Option available.
"The GED Option class would allow the district to continue getting (state) funds for those students," Meeks said.
Other factors are at work as well.
The state board of education is becoming more stringent under the compulsory school law, and is frowning on Northeast accepting 16-year-olds in the GED program who should be attending their local high schools, she said.
Districts also are concerned about dropout rates as a measure of school district performance.
Even if students earn the GED after leaving school, they would be counted as "dropouts" unless they earned the certification within the school district's GED Option program, said Mississippi Department of Education spokesman Pete Smith.
Meeks estimated that implementing a program within the school district would cost about $25,000, and offered the services of the Northeast ABE/GED program to administer it at no charge. They provide the service to several other school districts, though some choose to hire someone within the district.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.