TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - As students head back to school, the Tucson Unified School District is working to make sure they stay in school.
The district's d rop-out prevention program is headquartered at AGAVE Middle and High School and is made possible through a state gr ant.
Since the program was launched about two decades ago, the district has seen a decrease in d rop-out rates from 12 percent down to about three percent.
Debbie Ferryman is the coordinator of the program. She says the district is moving to a new model this year that will allow them to reach younger students.
Typically, the district would target high schoolers; however, a specialist assigned to a specific region within the district will work with kids of all ages.
Ferryman, who has been with the district for 18 years, says the indicators can be seen very early on.
She adds students who d rop out can have an effect on the entire community.
"I know it's over $300,000 a year is what it costs to help support a student without an education. It's an outrageous tax burden that we're asked to carry. Now you multiply this by the, what, 400 kids that d rop out a year. That's quite a chunk of change."
Ferryman said the reasons for d ropping out go beyond students just not wanting to go to school. She says she often sees a mix of generational or situational d rop-outs.
Generational d rop-out have never seen their parents or guardian graduate; therefore, it may not be a priority. On the other hand, situational d rop-outs are dealing with a variety of different problems at home.
Ferryman and her team work to provide resources for those students. Each year, they do a massive home visit with community leaders to find d rop-outs and convince them to return.
If you think your child is at risk of d ropping out, click here for resources: http://www.tusd1.org/Departments/dropout-Prevention/dropout-Prevention-Resource-Links
She says parents can have a crucial role in getting kids back in school.
"They need to put a value on education and realize that by pushing your child to stay in school, hanging in there, you're securing them a future," she said.