Big Decision Made By School System Has Residents Upset

By: Julie Maloney Reports
By: Julie Maloney Reports

Two school boards made a big decision Tuesday night in Harlan County, leaving some residents upset.

The Harlan Independent School Board voted not to accept Evarts High School as part of the district. Evarts, along with two other high schools, will be a part of a school consolidation project in Harlan County.

Construction is well underway for a building that will house three county schools in Harlan.

"I feel like the education of Clover Fork is being compromised for the financial benefits of both school systems," Benny Coleman said.

Benny Coleman spent his high school years studying at Evarts High School, a small school he says provides students with a good education.

"Statistics prove that smaller schools educate better," Coleman said.

That's why Coleman, along with more than 90-percent of the Evarts and Clover Fork communities signed a petition asking the county and city school boards to allow Evarts High School to stay open and become part of the city district.

But Coleman says he didn't know a decision was going to be made Tuesday.

"We as a community of Clover Fork didn't even know this was going to be discussed. Nobody bothered to tell us," Coleman said.

In Tuesday's special meeting, the petition was denied.

"We were honored that they would want to be part of our district. At this point it's not something we're prepared to deal with," Superintendent David Johnson said.

Coleman says he wasn't at Tuesday night's meeting because he didn't know about it. "My wife answered the phone and she told me Harlan Independent denied our petition and I thought she was joking! I had no idea!"

Despite the decision to close Evarts High School, Coleman says the fight isn't over.

WYMT spoke with a member of the Kentucky Board of Education on Wednesday and he says that in cases of consolidation there's usually some sort of controversy, but Coleman says his main concern is the best interest of the students.


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