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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – State and national education experts gathered at Brandon Central Services Center in Columbus Friday (2/15) for a dropout prevention summit.

For them huge dropout rates are unacceptable.

They know that academic failures have a way of becoming economic hardships.

“So we are looking at the large number of those kids who are without jobs, without direction and so for the American taxpayer its a drain on the taxpayer,” said David Thomas, National Dropout Prevention Trainer.

“Things that should not have to occur within our society that’s being effected by those students or those persons that don’t have the proper education or have not pursued the proper education,” said Onesha Richards, Learning Options Specialist.

Every 26 seconds, in America, someone drops out of school.

Eight out of ten of them will end up behind bars.

Friday’s summit emphasized innovative approaches to the problem.

“Those who have not been successful in traditional models for whatever the reason. We create a model that is internet based. where these kids are able to engage with live instruction via the internet,” said Thomas.

“And I, my philosophy is that one size does not fit all. So we want to provide that option available for students and let them know its out there.  And again Columbus School District has come on board to make sure that our students are going to be accommodated,” said Richards.

Columbus leaders are looking at what worked for other school districts.

An initiative in Birmingham could, when applied here, help more local students earn their high school diploma.

“And so that just gets them in the door to either prepare for a career or prepare for secondary education which then further increases their quality of life,” said Thomas.

The goal of Columbus Municipal School District’s Project 2020 is to increase the graduation rate to 85 percent or higher by the year 2020.

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