Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

Athens County poverty rate pushing high-school, college graduation rates down

Growing up, Kelli Schell’s father always emphasized the importance of education. But after a pregnancy forced her to drop out of Nelsonville-York High School in 2005, her plans to attend college were put on hold.

She lived on welfare until the baby was born and then got a job in a factory. It was not until last year that she started working on her GED with the hopes of finally going to college.

“I want to get my GED to better myself,” she said.

With high poverty rates in Athens County, Schell’s situation is not uncommon in the area.

“One of the hardships of education in this area is the poverty rate,” said Nick Claussen, spokesman for Athens County Job and Family Services. “They don’t have funding. People have kids or transportation issues.”

The poverty rate in Athens County is 30.3 percent, more than double the Ohio rate of 14.2 percent, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

In Schell’s hometown of Nelsonville, 39.1 percent of residents live in poverty.

With the high poverty rate come low rates of high-school and college diplomas, Claussen said.

In Ohio, 87 percent graduated high school and 24 percent have a college degree. In Nelsonville, only 79 percent graduated high school and 8 percent finished college, according to the census.

Ohio University students, who have high-school diplomas, could be an inflating factor for education rates in both the city of Athens and Athens County.

In the city, 91 percent graduated from high school and 62 percent from college.

In the county, 86 percent have high-school diplomas and 27 percent have college degrees.

Nelsonville is the only other census-recognized city in Athens County.

About 50 percent of Trimble High School students went on to higher education, said Matt Curtis, principal of Trimble High School in Glouster, in an email.

In 2010, 60 percent of Trimble students went on to higher education, up from 42 percent the year before. The number remained high in 2011 with 63 percent going to college, according to numbers provided by Curtis. He added that the numbers only represent students who went to college; it does not account for whether or not they graduated.

Claussen said Job and Family Services has programs that help pay for college, but space and funds are limited.

“It helps pay $10,000 for college. It is limited and it’s full,” he added. The program was also decreased because of recent budget cuts to the department.

Schell said that, after she earns her GED, she plans to go to college to study business but does not know how she will pay for it.

Even through the hardships, Schell still believes in the importance of education.

“It’s important to get a better job and let my kids know that education matters,” she said.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH