Senate Backs Bill to Keep Students in School Until 17

Lisa Rein:

Maryland high school students would have to stay in school until they turn 17, a year later than current law requires, under a bill that won preliminary approval yesterday in the state Senate.
Lawmakers representing struggling school districts in Prince George’s County and the city of Baltimore have pushed the General Assembly for five years to raise the compulsory attendance age to reduce rising dropout rates. The effort has been stymied by estimates that keeping more students in school would cost millions of dollars.
Under the legislation, which passed a preliminary test on a 28 to 16 vote yesterday, the attendance age would rise in the 2010-2011 school year. An amendment would allow it to go up only if the governor set aside at least $45 million a year in the state budget to compensate school districts.
Students who are home-schooled, ill, in the military or considered by school officials to be disruptive or violent would be exempt from the bill.