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Driving down dropout rate

Laurels to continued improvement in graduation rates for the Rowan-Salisbury School System. Years ago, RSSS made the graduation rate a priority, providing more intervention for at-risk students — and both students and the community have benefitted. Since adoption of the cohort graduation measuring system — which tracks groups of students who graduate in four years or less — RSSS has notched significant gains. The 2013 rate of 82.9 percent is more than 15 percentage points higher than the 2006 rate. Kannapolis schools have also recorded steady advances, although this year’s 84.9 percent rate dipped slightly from last year. Going forward, the challenge for school systems statewide will be to continue these improvements amid a budgeting climate where funding for dropout-prevention programs and individual tutoring may be harder to find.
Dart to the unusually high number of dolphin deaths occurring along the Mid-Atlantic coast, as well as in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Reseachers don’t yet know what’s behind these die-offs but suspect they could be linked to a variety of causes, including viruses, biotoxins produced by algae blooms, pollution or environmental changes. In July alone, at least 90 dead dolphins washed up along the Mid-Atlantic shore between New York and Virgina, compared to only 10 dolphin deaths recorded in the same areas in July 2012. Along the Gulf Coast, more than 1,000 cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) have been stranded since February 2010, with most of them dying. At Florida’s Indian River Lagoon, dead manatees also have been found. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that something is disrupting the dolphin’s normal life processes, and scientists are worried about the impact on other marine life if dolphin populations suffer a significant decline.
Laurels to signs of progress in the battle against childhood obesity in America. The declines in preschooler obesity recorded in 18 states aren’t large, but they’re significant in reversing a health issue that has been linked to rising rates of diabetes and other illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control study concentrated on low-income preschoolers, a demographic that is prone to have unhealthy diets and higher rates of obesity. While the rates were unchanged in 20 states, including North Carolina, the findings offer some encouragement of a turning point in the battle against unhealthy body weight, which affects a third of U.S. children and two-thirds of adults.
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Laurels to the N.C. Department of Commerce’s new website to help people looking for employment and those with jobs to offer. The site, www.ncworks.gov, is more than a job-listing site. It also can help users create a resume, explore career options and locate sources for education and training. While this information may already be available through other online venues, it’s convenient to have a one-stop cybershop that puts it all together. There’s also a bonus for taxpayers — by consolidating different information systems at one website, the state will save $2 million annually.

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