VISD superintendent to meet with public about dropout rate

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Sept. 8, 2012 at 4:08 a.m.

An average of 300 students in the Victoria school district are absent from school every day, according to numbers reported earlier this year.

Superintendent Robert Jaklich will lead community members and staff employees in a public discussion Monday evening to improve attendance and reduce the district's dropout rate.

Steve Murdock, former U.S. Census Bureau director and now director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University, spoke at the effort's first meeting earlier this year in March.

In his presentation the demographer spoke about how the increasing number of Hispanics in the state population could hurt the state's economy because 42.5 percent of Hispanics in Texas have less than a high school education.

According to published reports, Murdock projected a 15-percent decline in Anglo children and a 213-percent increase in Hispanic children in Texas by 2040.

"As population changes, if we do not change the socioeconomics that go with them, primarily through education, we will change the very economy of Texas and the United States as a whole," Murdock said.

He explained that 30 percent of the labor force could be made up of dropouts by 2040, which could increase poverty by 4 percent.

But if attendance improves, the state's aggregate household income could increase by $300 billion per year. Consumer expenditures could increase by $224 billion per year by 2040, Murdock said.

About 100 people attended the meeting in March.

"The attendance at the first meeting showed that people in the community are concerned and want to improve education in Victoria," said Kimberly Motley, Victoria East High School counselor.

Motley said seven focus groups were formed to target the main reasons students aren't going to school.

"We obviously have an attendance problem at our schools," Motley said. "Some students have to be employed to provide for their families, and it may be that education is not a priority," Motley said.

The high school counselor said the group hopes to build partnerships with businesses to give students flexible work hours throughout the school day to improve attendance.

"We need to bring a community approach to our future," Jaklich said. "It really takes a village to raise a child."



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