Dropout rate at Brewer High School continues to fall

Posted July 20, 2010, at 12:31 a.m.

BREWER, Maine — The number of students who drop out of school before graduation has decreased for the fourth year in a row, Brewer School Committee members learned Monday.

Superintendent Daniel Lee gave accolades to Kathleen Kazmierczak, director of instruction, and the dropout prevention committee.

Kazmierczak presented the school board with Brewer High School’s dropout rates for the last eight years compared with five area schools and the state average. The most recent year calculated is the 2008-09 school year.

“Our dropout rate … has declined again,” she said. “Now we’re at 3.82 percent, which is a really nice decline from 4.6 percent for the prior year” and the 7 percent tallied in the 2004-05 school year.

The state average for 2008-09 is 3.42 percent, a decrease from 4.13 percent in 2007-08. Bangor High School’s rate is 5.92 percent for 2008-09; Hampden Academy, 1.62 percent; Hermon High School, 3.28 percent; Old Town High School, 7.27 percent; and Orono High School, 6.87 percent.

Maine began using a new federally required Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate method to calculate both graduation and dropout rates for the 2008-09 data, which has thrown off some of the annual numbers and makes comparing previous years difficult for some. All of the regional data were complied from the Maine Department of Education.

“When you drop from less than 1 percent to 7 percent,” which is what happened in Orono between the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years, “it’s obvious there is no integrity in the state’s numbers,” said Amanda Bost, vice chairman of the school board.

Kazmierczak said proactive programs such as PLATO have helped to keep Brewer students from falling through the cracks.

PLATO is a computer program that allows students to work independently and helps students make up classes they have failed or learn new skills to make them better students.

“This year we began offering PLATO during the school year and offering it in the summer,” Kazmierczak said.

Ten students took PLATO summer school and successfully made up classes they failed, she said.

“That is a really nice thing that we’ve done for these kids,” Kazmierczak said.

During the meeting, the board also:

• Heard that the School Department and Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System has received a $10,000 Safe Routes to School grant to study walking and bicycle routes and infrastructure around the new Brewer Elementary-Middle School on Parkway South, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2011.

The goal is to encourage students to stay active and physically fit by walking or bicycling to school, the superintendent said, adding that school leaders already are beginning to discuss where school buses will pick up students when the new school opens.

• Accepted the resignations of Crystal Jackins, Brewer High School French teacher, for personal reasons, and Kara Wisniewski, school psychological, who is moving to Pennsylvania.

• Approved making Accounting 1 a math credit class.

• Endorsed allowing Librarian Marilyn Joyce to apply for a Moodle Book Club grant to create an online book club.

• Held the first reading of two proposed policies regarding the display of the U.S. flag and holding a Pledge of Allegiance each morning. The second reading is scheduled for the Aug. 16 meeting.

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