BURGIN — Burgin High School graduated 100 percent of its seniors in 2011, according to statistics recently released by the Kentucky Department of Education.
The high school, part of the Burgin Independent School district, is one of four in the state that graduated 100 percent of its seniors from the 2010-2011 academic year. The other schools were Augusta Independent School, Beechwood High in the Beechwood Independent School District and Fairview High in the Fairview Independent School District.
Burgin graduates about 30 to 35 students each year. This is not the first time the school has had a 100-percent graduation rate, said Superintendent Richard Webb. Burgin had a 100-percent graduation rate in 2009 as well as several other times during Webb’s 15 years of service.
“I would be proud of our students no matter what the graduation rate,” Webb said. “But this marks a huge accomplishment for them as well as our dedicated faculty and staff.”
The superintendent said the small size of Burgin schools makes it easier for students and staff members to develop close relationships, which helps keep even struggling students in school. The average student-to-teacher ratio is 12:1, and most students attend elementary, middle and high school together.
However, a factor that has led to dropouts in Burgin and other districts over the years is a “lack of parental interest” in education, Webb said. In Kentucky, a student who is younger than 18 but older than 16 can only drop out of school with a parent’s written consent.
“Any parent who signs their child out of school is guilty of educational neglect,” Webb said. “He is condemning his child to what could be a life of poverty or ignorance.”
In other findings, Boyle County High School dramatically increased its graduation rate, according to the report. Boyle graduated 92.1 percent of its students in 2011, a significant jump from 79.4 in 2010.
“What Dick Webb has done with the school system in Burgin is called success,” said Boyle Superintendent Mike Lafavers. “Their graduation rate is truly winning.”
Lafavers said while Boyle has consistently had fewer high school dropouts than the state average, he and other administrators had been dissatisfied with the number of teens leaving school without a diploma. The high school typically graduates 225 students annually.
“Graduating high school is imperative to fulfilling the American dream of having a good-paying job,” Lafavers said.
If a student in Burgin or Boyle expresses a desire to drop out of school, the superintendent, school principal, and sometimes a counselor or teacher will sit down and have an open discussion.
“We sit with the kid to figure out the barriers,” Lafavers said. “Once you identify the barrier, you can come up with solutions to keep the student in school.”
Marty Collier, Burgin High principal for 13 years, said dropout requests are less common these days because society has generally accepted that a high school education is the bare minimum required to succeed in life.
In 2011, Danville High graduated 75.9 percent of its seniors while Garrard County High graduated 73.9 percent. Both figures were slightly lower than the 2011 average state graduation rate of 78 percent.
“We are concerned about the number of dropouts because the number represents young people who are not getting a high school diploma,” said Ed McKinney, former Danville High principal and current director of pupil personnel for Danville Independent Schools.
McKinney said the school tends to graduate about 100 to 130 students each year. The key to preventing dropouts is to get students on track as early as possible in their high school careers, he said. Once a student starts failing classes and needs more than four years to finish high school, he is much more likely to drop out before getting a diploma.
Mercer County Senior High fared well in the rankings, graduating 84.5 percent of its seniors in 2011. Garrard and Mercer school officials did not immediately return e-mails and telephone calls seeking comment.