With the regional high school dropout rate on the rise, principal Sara Dingledy sought to explain the numbers to the district school committee this week, which she said are misleading.

Speaking to the committee at its meeting Monday, Ms. Dingledy said for starters there is a glitch is the high school’s new tracking system, which automatically enters every Island eighth grader into a database after they graduate from middle school. But not every student attends the regional high school after eighth grade. As a result, for example, when a student goes to private school on the mainland or is home schooled, the system counts them as dropouts.

Additionally Ms. Dingledy said the school is seeing an increase in students who enroll but do not intend to obtain a traditional diploma, the majority of them from Brazil.

She cited a recent trend of students who enrolled as freshmen at age 16 and 17 after moving to the Island from Brazil. Ms. Dingledy said the students might stay at the school for a year. They might not return after summer break, or they might move back to Brazil or leave without communicating with the high school. Seven of 13 students listed as dropouts in 2017 fell into this category; 2018 saw a similar trend, the principal said.

“Our entrance interview doesn’t capture what people are really looking for out of high school when they are coming in at 16 and 17 years old without English,” Ms. Dingledy said. “Some students, we’ve learned in further conversation, are hoping to learn English and to work, but not necessarily to stay for four years in high school for a traditional high school diploma.”

With the number of new students from Brazil projected to increase in the coming years, Ms. Dingledy said she expects the trend to continue. But it also provides important data for the high school. “From what we know of where these students currently are and if they’re currently working, we can piece together how we as a school can support this group of students,” she said.

In other business Monday, the committee had a look at six new school logos designed by Joe Mikos that were voted the most appealing by current high school students and staff. Before the new logos can be branded on school merchandise and athletic gear, the committee needs to vote to accept the gift of the rights to the logos from Mr. Mikos. Committee members asked school superintendent Matthew D’Andrea for guidance, before they take a vote.

Committee members also voted to re-certify the high school budget for the coming fiscal year, following adjustments that were made for health insurance costs. The costs went down slightly, and will result in a savings of $183,000.

The new budget stands at $23.01 million, a 4.6 per cent increase over last year.

The up-Island school committee took a similar vote to re-certify its budget last week.