Temporary fix for two Harlan County school districts

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Officials with the Kentucky Board of Education said the commissioner's decision will hold in a dispute between two Harlan County School districts. But leaders said that is only a temporary fix.

The decision came down Wednesday afternoon. One district was pleased with the results; the other was disappointed. Both are figuring out what to do next.

They are two different opinions, from two different school districts, in the same county.

"Pretty much, it went the way I expect it to go," said Tim Saylor, Harlan County Schools Superintendent.

"We are disappointed," said David Johnson, Harlan Independent School District Superintendent.

They differ on what the issue is.

"In Harlan County, the issue is the loss of student enrollment. That's the basis of this whole thing," said Saylor.

"The issue is people and them being able to choose where they want to get their children educated," said Johnson.

The state board upheld the commissioner's ruling.
It was appealed by Harlan Independent Schools.

That means next year's reciprocal agreement... will stay the same as this year's.

Siblings and children of full time faculty members will be grandfathered in.

But that does not include preschool students.

"We've lost over one thousand students in ten years. That's staggering," said Saylor.

Saylor said it all comes down to numbers. They have closed county schools and are trying to do what is best for their district.

"It's really not numbers. It's people," said Johnson.

Johnson said they understand population loss throughout the county is a concern, but they want parents to have the right to choose.

Harlan Independent Schools can still file an appeal of the board's decision. That would go to Circuit Court in Franklin County.

That's where the case between Corbin and Knox County School sits at this point.

Several board members at the hearing asked both districts if they had ever considered merging. Both superintendents made it clear Thursday, a merger was not their intent.

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