Board members from both school systems reached a three year reciprocal agreement that will allow some students from the county to attend city schools if they choose.
“Our contract for non-resident students to attend our school district expired last June,” said Joe Meadors, the Harlan Independent School Board Chairman.
A fluctuating number was chosen that both districts are comfortable with.
“Basically every year that number will decrease from the 275 the first year to the 250 to the 225 for the non resident students,” said Gary Farmer, the Harlan County Board Chairman.
A yearly number had to be chosen because that dictates where state funding for the student will end up. If it is left unclaimed, it goes back to Frankfort. Those numbers do not include employees' students.
“Anybody that works in either district, their children can attend that school free of charge whether they are resident or non resident and the schools still get full funding,” said Meadors.
Meadors said that there were also siblings of some of those students who were “grandfathered in.”
Board members said that they had to meet in the middle, but they were glad to negotiate among themselves.
“This is a Harlan County issue that we needed to solve locally,” said Meadors.
“We did not need the state commissioner nor the state board of education to rule on this.”
Both agreed that the current economic status is weighing parents’ decisions enough.
“It is not something we both wanted, but it is something that we both compromised and both districts can live with,” said Farmer.
Farmer said that he believes that the graduation rate will be helped as a result of the compromise and he hopes this will open the floor for future agreements.
“We did not get everything we wanted, nor did the Harlan County Board of Education you know that's what a compromise is, you have to give a little bit to gain something,” said Meadors.
This contract is effective immediately and will not expire until the 2013-2014 school year. The previous agreement was for five years.