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High school drop-outs cost state over $1 billion a year
The Turlock Unified School District has a lower percentage of high school drop-outs than both Stanislaus County as a whole and California. - photo by Journal file photo
2007-2008 Drop-out Rates
• 13.7 percent in the Turlock Unified School District
• 22.8 percent in Stanislaus County
• 18.9 percent in California
Not only are drop-outs twice as likely to commit crimes as high school graduates, but they also cost the state money in juvenile crimes and in economic losses, according to a new UC Santa Barbara study.   
If there were only half of the drop-outs, it would reduce the number of juvenile crimes in California by 30,000 a year and save the state $550 million a year, according to a study released Thursday by the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  
“This study underscores the immediate impact drop-outs have on both public safety and our state’s economy,” said Russell Rumberger, California Dropout Research Project Director. “If California could effectively reduce the dropout rate, it could subsequently reduce the juvenile crime rate and its staggering impact on the state budget.”  
In 2006, only about three percent of the students enrolled at the four high schools in Turlock eventually dropped out, according to a study done by the California Department of Education. There were about 4,900 students enrolled in the Turlock Unified School District for high schools and about 144 dropped out in 2006.     
TUSD records a four-year drop-out rate, where the students are kept track of from freshmen year until they graduate, said Gil Ogden, director of student services for TUSD.  In the 2007-2008 school year, TUSD drop-out rates, as a whole, were 13.7 percent; Stanislaus County’s drop-out rates were 22.8 percent; and California’s drop-out rates were 18.9 percent.  
Through the four high schools in the Turlock District, Pitman’s drop-out rates were 5 percent, Turlock High’s drop-out rates were 8.1 percent, Freedom High’s drop-out rates were 48.7 percent and Roselawn has no record of drop-out rates because it is only a three-year school, Odgen said.   After the release of this study, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was presented with Senate Bill 651, which would require the California Department of Education to produce an annual report on drop-outs that would focus on drop-out trends and help with early warning signs. This annual report is one of the recommendations suggested by the California Dropout Research Project policy report in 2008 to increase California’s high school graduation rate.    
“This bill would require the superintendent, on or before Aug. 1, 2011, and annually thereafter, to submit to the Governor, the Legislature, and the state board, a report called the Annual Report on Dropouts in California,” according to Senate Bill 651.
It costs the state about $1.1 billion a year in juvenile crime costs, but the economic loss from juvenile crimes is about $8.9 billion per year, according to the UC Santa Barbara study titled “High School Dropouts and the Economic Losses from Juvenile Crime in California.” Starting at 12 years old, juveniles will cause about $1 billion dollars in economic losses. Throughout their life-time they will cost the state about $10.5 billion.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.