AUSTIN - State Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Duval County, passed a bill out of the House of Representatives this week that will give local schools money for club activities that help kids stay in school.

"High dropout rates are a serious problem in our schools today, and this bill will provide local schools with one more tool to use to keep students in school longer and help them get their high school diploma," Rep. Guillen said after the bill was unanimously passed by members of the House.

Now being considered in the Texas Senate, HB 3418 would set up a pilot program to give schools state grants for clubs that have as part of their goal to keep students from dropping out of school.

The four-year dropout rate for the class of 2005 in Region 1, which covers the Valley area including Webb, Starr and Zapata counties, is consistently higher than the 4.3 percent statewide, said a Texas Education Agency spokeswoman.

Guillen said by getting students in danger of dropping out involved in various school clubs and activities, they will be more likely to try harder to stay in school.