State releases school graduation and dropout numbers

Report tells which districts Proposal 1 would affect

 In September, the Michigan Department of Education released its report on the 1998-99 graduation and dropout rates for the state's 555 state school districts, including 18 public school academies. The State Aid Act requires the Department of Education to provide the Legislature with this annual "District Membership Retention Report."

The report this year has added significance due to Proposal 1, an education reform initiative scheduled to appear on the November ballot. If approved, the state would be required to provide tax-funded vouchers for nonpublic school tuition for students in districts whose 1998-99 graduation rates were below two-thirds. The average district graduation rate is 81.12 percent.

According to the report, seven districts qualify for immediate vouchers, and prominent on the list is the 170,000-student Detroit City School District. Vouchers will not apply in any of the other districts, unless a majority of school board members or local residents later votes them in.

The report also lists 188 school districts with graduation rates over 90 percent, with 76 of those being over 95 percent and 15 achieving a 100-percent rate.

The entire report can be accessed via Internet at www.mde.state.mi.us/reports/distmembret.pdf.