- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina lawmakers are making another attempt to cut the state’s high school dropout rate. A bill to be considered by General Assembly this year would raise the minimum dropout age from 17 to age 18.

Lawmakers and supporters of the bill held a news conference in Charleston on Wednesday to draw public attention to the effort, local media outlets report.

State Rep. Jenny Horne of Summerville said she thinks the bill will have bipartisan support in Columbia.

A previous effort to raise the dropout age died in a legislative committee. But supporters say drawing more public attention to the issue should help the new bill’s chances of becoming law.

Horne said the reason the last bill may have failed was that lawmakers didn’t bring enough publicity to the issue the last time around.

“My hope is that our kids will be able to improve themselves in terms of their education but also in terms of gainful employment,” said Jim Young, manager of human resources at the South Carolina Ports Authority and a supporter of the bill.

Charleston County School Board member Chris Staubes expressed reservations about the proposal.

“I really think the Legislature should look at why kids are dropping out at that age and try to find a solution to that problem, versus just making it illegal,” he said.

Under current statewide truancy policies, parents whose children drop out before they turn 17 can face a fine of up to $50 per day the child is absent.

Five members of the House are co-sponsoring the bill.

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