Oct 27, 2011 5:58 PM by Jen Hollenbach, David Sherman

Juneau promotes "Graduation Matters" in Great Falls

A Montana-wide initiative is working to get towns involved with keeping kids in school.

Denise Juneau, the MT Superintendent of Public Instruction, visited Great Falls on Thursday in an effort to get all sectors of the Electric City on board with "Graduation Matters Montana."

The program aims to raise standards within schools - and keep students from dropping out.

Juneau noted, "If we keep 5% of our male drop-outs in school, it has the benefit of crime-related savings, social services savings, and an influx of tax dollars into our state of $19 million dollars per year."

Juneau says the program aims to have a 50% decrease in drop-out rates by 2014, but she says it's going to take community efforts alongside state level commitment to change the culture within schools.

Among the tools promoted by Juneau is the Graduation Matters Montana website, which includes a pledge form for students to fill out.

The printable form reads, in part: "No matter what it takes, how long it takes, or how hard it gets, I can do this and I will not give up."

The form then asks students to complete the following statement: "One reason I think it is important for me to graduate is..."