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It costs Arizona $7.6 billion When Students Don’t Finish High School

More than 18,000 Arizona students who dropped out of high school this year will cost the state $7.6 billion over their lifetimes, according to a new report from Arizona mayors that details the economic devastation.

The report shows that youths who drop out of high school are less likely to find a job or earn a living wage and more likely to have poor health, engage in criminal behavior and require public assistance than those who finish high school.

“We know as mayors the future success of the schools in our cities and our cities are one and the same,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said Wednesday at a news conference at Phoenix’s Central High School. He and several other mayors from the Phoenix area and rural Arizona participated in the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, which commissioned the report.

The report examined the impact of dropouts in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, Goodyear and Avondale, as well as the rural areas of Miami, Oro Valley and Sahuarita. Mayors from the communities are part of the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable.

High-school dropouts cost Arizona $4.9 billion in lost income; $869 million in health costs; $1.7 billion in crime-related expenses; and $26 million in welfare over their lifetimes, according to the report.

Arizona loses $294 million over the lifetimes of high-school dropouts in the productivity declines of a less-educated workforce and $145 million in taxes collected to pay for government expenses over their lifetimes, the report said. The report added that high-school dropouts who end up going to college later save Arizona $398 million.

Each mayor spoke of existing initiatives in their cities aimed at increasing the graduation rate, including after-school programs, literacy projects and partnerships with school districts. But the mayors presented the report with the hope of attracting a response from the state’s business leaders.

“That number is your number too. You have as much at stake as anyone in the success of our schools,”

“We plan to challenge the business community and say, ‘That number is your number too. You have as much at stake as anyone in the success of our schools,'” Stanton said.

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