NEWTON, N.C. -- Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, two districts will become the first in the state to raise the drop out age from 16, to 18.

The move came after input from city, businesses, and leaders who wanted to help improve the quality of the workforce and attract more industry to the area which has been plagued by years of high unemployment due to the loss of factory and other manufacturing jobs.

Our focus is on preparing every student for college and career and this is one of those steps, said Newton-Conover Superintendent David Stegall.

We're hoping to increase the standard of living in our community at the minimum benefit.

Newton-Conover and the City of Hickory school districts are the first to make the move to the 18-year old- drop out age.

Under current state law, students who drop out before the age of 16 can face certain actions including failure to obtain their driver's license and their parents could even face legal problems.

Next year, students in these two districts will be subject to these penalties if they dropout before their eighteenth birthday.

The goal is to keep students in school longer giving parents and teachers better chance of helping them reach graduation.

You don't know at age 14, 15 and 16 what you'll need at age 50. It s good to know that we are preparing students for doors that they don't even know will be open down the line, said Stegall.

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