Friday, January 14, 2011

SEEK funding, the dropout age, and planning to pay the bills

The Department of Education recently notified districts that they would not receive SEEK funding this year at the promised levels.

Why?  The main reason is that average daily attendance (ADA) is higher than the state budget assumed it would be, by about 10,000 students, so there will be less money per pupil.

I've heard two further things that make sense to me. First, that we changed how we count ADA recently, and the budget could and should have taken that into account.  Second, that in past years, the SEEK line item had some extra money built in in case ADA went up, but that sort of cushion wasn't included in the current budget.  I'd rate the folks I've heard these things from as very likely to have the story straight, but should mention that I haven't heard these details directly from state officials involved in this work.

In any case, the end result is that the state is spending the same total dollars, but every student in the state will receive less than promised.

I want to link that experience to proposals to raise the dropout age, now being seriously discussed in Frankfort.

When we say we're ready to work harder with students who want to quit, we need to include the funding.  We need to get the cost estimate right, and we need a serious plan to pay that bill promptly when it comes due.

Last year, I estimated that raising the dropout age would add about 9,300 students to average daily attendance, very like the recent SEEK shift.  Counting state-paid benefits as well as SEEK costs, I estimated a state price tag of about  $71.5 million to serve those additional students.

Until the legislature talks concretely about the actual costs and the plan for meeting those costs, I'm worried about repeating what just happened with SEEK: the state will provide the same total dollars and ask districts to make that amount serve many more students.


  1. i am doing a school project about the dropout age of school what do you think the dropout age should be? please awnser


  2. Hi Joshua,

    I think it's a mistake for anyone to drop out of high school, but I think it should be legal when people turn 16.

    I think high school should be challenging, engaging, respectful, and clearly useful for getting a good job later on--so very few people want to drop out.

    And I think we should make it really easy to "drop back in," with programs that let people who drop out come back and finish their diplomas. That way, if someone makes a mistake at 16, they can fix it when they see how much they need to finish school.

    Let me add here that this is just my opinion, and I wasn't planning to share that until you asked me so directly. A lot of people I respect think the law should require people to stay in school until 18.

    If you want the Prichard Committee's official view, you can also write to Cindy Heine, the interim executive director. Her e-mail is

  3. do you know anybody that thinks that the dropout age should be lowered.


  4. do you have any web blogs that disagree with you.


  5. Joshua,

    I haven't heard anyone arguing for a lower age.

    Governor and Mrs. Beshear are among the strong advocates for a higher age, and the Governor's website will have speeches and maybe blog posts giving their arguments.

  6. thank you for the help



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