Franklin County

Early graduation bill passes first test

FRANKFORT — A bill that would allow high school students to go to college early cleared a Senate committee Thursday but not before one Democrat criticized its provision that would dramatically lower graduation requirements.

The legislation, Senate Bill 3, would permit students who complete core classes before the end of their senior year to leave early and would provide scholarship money for those students to go to two- or four-year colleges in Kentucky.

The funding to help those early graduates pay tuition would come through the main school funding formula. School districts would get to count the early graduates in their total number of students as their annual funding is determined, said Sen. Ken Winters, R-Murray and the sponsor of the bill.

"I would call this a cultural change bill," said Sen. Dan Kelly, R-Springfield.

But Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, objected to the bill's provisions that would reduce requirements for prospective early graduates.

Early graduates who go to four-year universities would have to maintain a 3.2-grade point average, take at least two advanced placement tests and complete 16 core credits, rather than the current 22. Students who leave early for technical or community college would be required to maintain a 2.8 G.P.A. and take 13 core credits — nearly a third fewer than required now.

The bill passed the Education Committee 8-2.