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MHS dropout rate on decline

The rate is edging closer to the state average
General Editor
   Madras High School's dropout rate has continued to fall, edging closer to the state average of 5.3 percent, it was announced last week in a report by State Schools Supt. Stan Bunn.
   Out of 800 students, MHS had 44 dropouts, which gave it a dropout rate of 5.50 in 2000-01, down from a rate of 6.59 for the 1999-00 school year.
   Madras High's rate has been falling steadily for four years, from 14.5 percent in 1997 and 10.04 percent in 1998 to the current rate, and MHS Principal Sean Gallagher thinks the trend will continue.
   "I feel we've made great strides as a school to improve, through better counseling, more student contact, more programs for students to plug into, and making students feel safe here," he said.
   "If you keep students' interest, meet their needs, and help them feel successful they will continue to improve," Gallagher noted.
   This year MHS added a special reading program and a shelter program, he said. The shelter program helps students learning to speak English make the transition from English as Second Language classes into mainstream English classes, he explained.
   "Closed campus had a lot to do with dropout improvements last year also. If students are in class they will be more successful," Gallagher added.
   Culver High School's dropout rate increased slightly from 6.29 to 6.90 percent. Out of the school's 145 students, 10 were reported as dropouts. CHS Principal Jon Bell could not be reached for comment.
   The report also listed reasons why a total of 54 students in Jefferson County dropped out of high school. The top reasons were dysfunctional home life, too far behind in credits to catch up, could not adjust to school setting, and lack of parental support for education.
   In most other Central Oregon high schools dropout rates also declined. Dropout percentages were 4.39 for Bend High School, 1.6 Mountain View, 3.64 LaPine, 2.44 Redmond, 1.34 Sisters, and 2.89 Crook County.
   Statewide, Supt. Bunn noted the one percent state dropout decrease (from 6.3 to 5.3) was the largest change in dropout figures in the last 10 years.
   Bunn has set a target of reducing the dropout rate by 2,000 students for the 2001-03 biennium, based on a budget proposal to the legislature for a statewide dropout prevention and recovery program.
   The dropout rate declined statewide across all racial and ethnic groups, with the Hispanic student dropout rate taking a sharp dive from 13.3 percent last year to 11.3 percent for 2000-01. For Native American students the rate went from 9.9 to 8.9 percent, for Asian American students from 5.3 to 4.4, for African American students from 11.4 to 11.0, and for White students from 5.5 to 4.5 percent.