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New Study Says High School Dropouts Cost Arizona Billions In Lost Productivity

A new study by the California Dropout Research Project reported high school dropouts are costing Arizona billions of dollars in lost economic activity. Some Valley mayors said more needs to be done to help students graduate.

The study found that students who dropped out this past year will cost Arizona $7.6 billion over their lifetimes because they aren’t generating tax revenues. The report said they also typically rely on state and local governments for welfare and other social services.

Mesa Mayor Alex Finter said his city is already acting to reduce the dropout rate. Finter said Mesa is using a grant to open access centers next year where students can receive academic counseling outside of school advisors who are often overworked.

"Where they’re given targeted help to find out where they are at the current moment and how to get them on to a college experience," Fintner said. "It’s just one of the many ideas to help reduce this dropout rate and this disengagement.”

The Arizona Department of Education estimated there were about 18,000 dropouts in Arizona in 2012. 

KJZZ Senior Field Correspondent Steve Shadley is no stranger to the issues shaping Arizona.