Sunnyside’s GradLink is the latest online education program to reach out to high school dropouts in an effort to boost graduation rates.

Arizona’s Sunnyside Unified School District has become the latest K-12 school system to turn to online instruction to help high school dropouts earn their diplomas.

Tucson, Ariz., mayor Jonathan Rothschild is teaming up with the Sunnyside Unified School District to recruit high school dropouts into an online education program to get their degrees.

Rothschild and Sunnyside Superintendent Manuel L. Isquierdo, a 2010 winner of the Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards from eSchool Media, on Jan. 3 announced GradLink, an online education program that aims to enroll 100 recent Tucson-area dropouts into online classes.

GradLink meets a goal of the Mayor’s Education Task Force, which is to improve high school graduation rates, said Rothschild at a news conference at his office.

“A high school diploma is a necessity in today’s job market,” Rothschild said. “Without one, it’s hard to get hired at a job that can support a family. The bottom line is that the way out of poverty is through education.”

(Next page: How the program works—and how it will be launched without any startup costs)