Graduation rates in Manatee County have steadily been on the rise, and for the second straight year, the number is above 80 percent.
The School District of Manatee County announced Wednesday that the graduation rate for the 2016-17 school year was 81.1 percent, just 1.2 percent shy of the state’s overall graduation rate. The district’s rate in 2015-16 was 83.5 percent.
Since 2010-11, the Manatee district’s graduation rate has increased 16.4 percent.
“The upward trend in our district’s graduation rate is directly attributable to the hard work of our students, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and all the dedicated professionals who devote themselves to educating our children,” said Superintendent Diana Greene. “We are deeply committed to making sure our students have the skills and attributes they need to pursue their dreams.”
Gov. Rick Scott also announced Wednesday that Florida’s 2016-17 graduation rate of 82.3 is the highest it has been in 14 years. Scott said the state’s numbers have been trending upward since 2003-04, when only 59.2 percent of students graduated.
“We want every Florida student to have access to a world-class education so they can succeed in the classroom and their future careers, and that is why my recommended Securing Florida’s Future budget includes historic funding for education for the sixth consecutive year, including significant investments for teachers and students in our K-12 system,” Scott said in a statement.
Scott’s efforts to put more money toward teachers and students echo the desire of the School Board of Manatee County. The board has arranged for a March 20 referendum to ask Manatee voters if they would support a $33 million, one-mill property tax increase that would, among other things, go toward increasing teacher salaries.
According to the Florida Department of Education, all race and ethnicity groups have seen an increase in graduation rates. Black and Hispanic students have seen respective increases of 10.2 and 6.4 percent over the last five years. Graduation rates for students with disabilities and those economically disadvantaged also are up.