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Columbus, Bloomington Seek To Fund “Graduation Coaches”

Local schools are trying to fund programs that would reduce drop-out rates, but that funding can be hard to find.

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Columbus schools will be adding mentors to two of their high schools to help students who are considered high-risk for dropping out.

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation has announced it is adding “graduation coaches” to its schools next year.

Those coaches will work with high-risk students in an attempt to increase the district’s graduation rates. The mentoring program comes on the heels of the Monroe County Consolidated School Corporation’s announcement that its own program will be cut if it does not find additional funding soon.

Nearly 90 percent of the students paired with MCCSC mentors last year stayed in school. MCCSC Director of Secondary Education Jan Bergeson says the numbers prove that cutting the program would be detrimental.

“We’re demonstrating excellent, excellent results,” she says. “It’s keeping kids in school towards graduation or getting to graduation, and that is something that would be valuable to  not only to the student and their families but obviously to our community to have a higher graduation rate.”

Columbus East High School Principal Mark Newell says the Bartholomew County school corporation is trying to avoid the kind of situation Monroe County is facing.

“What I’ve heard is that they’re trying to get you know at least a five year commitment and then the thought is once it builds success then it’ll just keep receiving funding from the community,” Newell says.

Bartholomew County’s program is funded by grants from Cummins Incorporated and the Community Education Coalition, a Columbus-based education advocacy organization. The mentors will be placed at Columbus North and East High Schools next fall.

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