Bill to raise high school dropout age to face fiscal opposition - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Bill to raise high school dropout age may face fiscal opposition

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Can the State of Georgia afford to raise the high school drop out age from 16 years old to 17, or even 16 1/2 years old?

The debate is on. Last week, it seemed like the proposal was a slam dunk, with Savannah City Council joining Senator Lester Jackson in supporting the bill, which failed in 2006.

Last week, Jackson told WTOC the proposal had bipartisan support and was viewed as a new way to attack a juvenile crime problem.

Tuesday morning, at the city's meeting with it's state delegation, Senator Buddy Carter told WTOC the downside, as is the case most of the time, will be costs.

"With a budget that is so tight it will be very difficult to get that passed on, 16 to 18, probably not. 16 to 17 may be feasible," Carter said "Again, you talk about the cost of it, but then again, can we afford not to do it?"

The state delegation of Senators Jackson and Carter and state representatives Ron Stephens,  Ann Purcell and her successor, Bill Hitchens met with city council Tuesday to go over city initiatives and requests for 2013. Juvenile crime was the number one subject.

Most agreed keeping students in school longer versus the option of dropping out at 16 has more upsides in the long run.

"When we talk about costs, I think of opportunities for thousands of young people to stay in school, to maintain a college education, to get a vocational and or technical education that would allow them to have livable wages," Jackson told WTOC.

More importantly, for city officials, the bill would keep high risk teens off the streets and in school. 

WTOC spoke with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal about the bill, and he said he wasn't even familiar with it and was curious to see a final proposal.

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