Wednesday, 24 October 2007 21:40
The tens of thousands of high school dropouts statewide cost
North Carolina at least $169 million a year in taxes and public spending, a
study released yesterday says.
A group that’s attempting to persuade lawmakers
to support a school voucher program released the study. They say a voucher
program would both reduce dropouts and save money. According to the Department
of Public Instruction, two thirds of North Carolina ninth-graders earn a high school
diploma within four years. The total cost for every dropout in North Carolina
is $4,437 annually. Dropouts also generate $712 million less in taxes and fees
annually because they pay fewer taxes than those with higher incomes.
Additionally, $155 million is generated in Medicaid spending because dropouts
disproportionately use the government health care program, according to the
Supporters of a voucher-style program hope that by using
taxpayer dollars to allow parents to send an additional 53,754 children to
private schools, public costs would be reduced by $24 million annually. Those
in opposition say that such a system would take away funds from public schools
and put them in private schools. Supporters say students are more successful in
a private school setting.
State superintendent June Atkinson said private schools
usually can’t offer the career and technical courses, however, that lead many
students to think twice before dropping out.