School Superintendent James Blair says an anti-dropout program tried out at Adams Elementary last school year has been so successful he wants it used in all of the district's elementary schools.

Blair, who will be taking early retirement on June 30, told the school board Wednesday that money spent during his administration on programs to help keep students in school has been the money best spent.He said the dropout rate in Utah is 20 percent in grades nine through 12, while the national average is even higher.

"I'm proud of the fact that the dropout rate in Logan is far below 5 percent," he said.

Blair said the Adams program involves identifying second-grdaders who are considered at risk because they are having problems with reading and do not have the social or emotional skills needed for success.

"We have set up special programs because we think at this age we have the most fertile ground for getting children off to a good start," he said.

"We have done a lot of work with families, having a dialogue with them each week, and we have had great cooperation," he said.

Blair said more than 20 years ago, the district began a program for young mothers, a group that had previously tended to drop out.

"Our alternative high school for 11th- and 12th-graders that do not fit into the traditional high school program has also been successful," he said. "We have to keep these classes small, which makes them expensive, but the high percentage of potential dropouts going on to graduate tells us it is worth it."

He said the alternative program will be expanded next year to include ninth- and 10th-graders at risk.

"Society has to pay one way or another, and I prefer to see the money spent up front for education rather than spending it later for prisons and welfare programs," he said.