School officials surprised by state budget appropriation
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
FRANKLIN — Franklin will receive $125,000 for dropout prevention through a grant that was included in the state budget passed yesterday.
“I was surprised,” said School Administrative Unit 18 Superintendent Daniel LeGallo. “I did not expect to get it.”
The grant will allow the school district to expand high school offerings that keep students interested in hopes of reducing the district’s dropout rate, which is one of the highest in the state.
Department of Education statistics for 2015-16, the latest available, show three out of 371, or 3.41 percent of Franklin students, dropped out that year, while the district’s four-year accumulative rate, which reflects the number of seniors dropping out during their high school years, was 13.03.
That makes Franklin’s the third-highest dropout rate, behind Claremont’s Stevens High School, with 4.04 percent for one year and 15.2 percent over four years, and Manchester’s 3.55 and 13.45 percent, respectively. Laconia’s rate was 2.84 for one year and 10.9 percent over four years.
LeGallo said the grant could mean expanding the drama program to other schools. A film studies program also has been discussed, he said.
“The administration and staff will be sitting down and planning what to do with that money,” he said. “There are other things we’ll be looking at as well, and, of course, the school board will have their say.”
Franklin State Rep. Werner Horn issued a statement yesterday, saying, “I am thrilled the House today passed a responsible budget that puts the needs of New Hampshire students, including those in Franklin, first. Franklin’s dropout prevention programs provide students with opportunities for study skill training, tutoring, work training programs, peer-centered community activities, and much more. Students are motivated to stay in school and encouraged to pursue postsecondary education or other opportunities they can excel in.”
LeGallo said, in addition to expanded course offerings, the district could promote mentoring, with older students working with younger students to keep them inspired.
With its strong tradition in sports, Franklin already has several options for those who are less interested in academics and might consider dropping out, but the more offerings the school can provide, the better the chances of retaining students, LeGallo said.
He noted that the school district previously had received a two-year My Turn grant this year that arranges business internships for students. The grant provided $60,000 each year, and the organization will have a spot in the high school next year, LeGallo said.
My Turn receives federal funding through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act as well as local and national foundations, as well as businesses and individuals.
LeGallo said educators will be working through the summer to put together a plan for dropout prevention so they can implement the programs this fall.
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