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Report suggests Grand Island has education problem

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — An economic development official says a report on what's good and bad about Grand Island shows the south-central Nebraska city must address its relatively low adult education levels.

"We have an education problem," said President Randy Gard of the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp. He said Thursday that Grand Island adults have far lower educational levels than those in other communities its size, according to The Grand Island Independent (http://bit.ly/1k0jMlz ). Gard also said the graduation rate and academic proficiency of Grand Island Public Schools students are below state averages.

"Those factors can kick you out of the running (for jobs) before you even know you were in the running," Gard said.

The results are part of the Grow Grand Island business development survey being conducted by MarketStreet consultants for the economic development corporation, Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce and Grand Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.

This study survey's aim was to identify "the good, bad and ugly" of what Grand Island has to offer, Gard said. The next step of the Grow Grand Island study will focus on identifying the businesses positioned to drive future job growth.

The survey report saw the area's population growth as a plus, noting that Hall County grew 11 percent in population between 2002 and 2012 and became more diverse.

But the report said that during 2010 to 2012, for example, nearly 25 percent of the new residents had not graduated from high school, compared with 16.2 percent of the entire adult population. Less than 10 percent of the new residents had bachelor's degree or higher, compared with 17.1 percent of the entire adult population.

Gard said also more must be done to prepare students for white-collar jobs that will open with retirements by baby boomers.

The study report praised the academic achievements of Northwest High School, with a 94.7 percent graduation rate but also noted that the 87 percent graduation rate at Grand Island Senior High was below the state average of 88.5 percent.

Student proficiency in reading, writing, mathematics and science is lower in Grand Island Public Schools than the state average in both eighth and 11th grades, the report said, with the exception of 11th-grade science.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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