Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


October 22, 2013

A key question

HOw well to students from 2 elementaries do in high school?

ASHLAND — Should sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students at Fallsburg and Blaine elementary schools be transferred to the Lawrence County Middle School in Louisa? Frankly, we can’t fairly answer that question without some key data from the school district.

 How do the students who attended Fallsburg and Blaine through the eight grade compare academically with students from Lawrence County Middle School when they all attend Lawrence County High School?

If there is no measurable difference between how students from the middle school and those from Blaine and Fallsburg perform in classes and on achievement tests at the high school, or if Blaine and Fallsburg students outperform the middle school students, then there is no compelling reason to transfer students from the elementary schools to the middle school.

If, on the other hand, middle school students arrive at the high school better prepared academically than their counterparts from the two grade schools, a strong case can be made for giving children from Fallsburg and Blaine the same academic opportunities as students who attend the middle school.

There is no question state education officials prefer having sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders attend school separate from children in kindergarten through the fifth grade. They contend having all students in the middle grades in the same building gives all students in that age group more educational opportunities than they could receive in an elementary school. For example, brighter students could take more demanding classes in math and science and even classes in foreign languages that they could not get at an elementary school because of not having enough students or having a shortage of qualified teachers.

But do the increased educational opportunities at Lawrence County Middle School produce students better prepared to do well in high school? Without comparing test scores and talking with high school teachers and counselors, we can’t answer that. But we do know the data to provide an accurate answer exists and it should be a major factor in any decision to change the status quo.

There is a vast difference between a 6-year-old first-grader and a 14-year-old eighth-grader. How well such diverse students mingle at Fallsburg and Blaine also should be a factor in any decision to move the older students to the middle school. Another factor should be the cost of transporting sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders to the middle school in Louisa compared to the cost of keeping the three grades at the two elementaries.

For the record, the debate on moving the older students at the two elementaries has been put on the backburner for now because of parent opposition. The district’s local planning committee had been considering a facilities plan that would make the change, but Superintendent Mike Armstrong said, “I don’t think that approach is going to go forward.”

While parents expressed fear that moving middle grades would be followed by closing the schools entirely, that strikes us as remote. Both schools are the center of social life in the two communities and people realize much would be lost if either school were to close.

With the Lawrence County School District expected to lose thousands of dollars in annual taxes with the closing of the Big Sandy Power Plant in 2015, the school district is facing enough challenges without having a controversy over older students at two elementaries. However, if the sixth, seventh and eighth grades remain at Blaine and Fallsburg, local officials can expect state officials to continue to apply pressure to move the middle grades to the middle school. But in the final analysis, any decision should be based on what is best for the students.


Text Only
  • By a thread

    It took some last-minute political maneuvering by State Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore and some skilled wheeling and dealing to prevent a bill important to AK Steel in Ashland from ending up on the scrapheap of the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly.

    April 23, 2014

  • Along the river

    Here’s hoping the weather will be as close to perfect as possible on the evening of May 30, as members of the Paul G. Blazer High School class of 2014 gather on the banks of Ohio River for the school’s first graduation on the river that has helped fuel this community’s economy since the time when it was known as known as Poage’s Landing.

    April 22, 2014

  • Good opportunity

    Morehead State University is using a highly successful program for outstanding high school juniors and seniors at Western Kentucky University to launch a similar program beginning in the fall of 2015 on the MSU campus.

    April 20, 2014

  • What's next?

    While virtually all cities in northeastern Kentucky provide their residents with some utility services — water and sewer, mainly, and sometimes natural gas — to the best of our knowledge, Olive Hill is the only town in the FIVCO‚Äąregion with its own electrical company.

    April 13, 2014

  • 'Waited too long'

    Lt. Garlin Murl Conner left the U.S. Army as the second-most decorated soldier during World War II, earning four Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars, seven Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during 28 straight months in combat.

    April 12, 2014

  • Enact HB 3

    The National Rx Drug Abuse Summit is under way hundreds of miles from eastern Kentucky in Orlando, Fla., but the three-day conference which runs through Thursday, was organized by Operation UNITE, the eastern Kentucky anti-drug group that knows all too well the devastating impact the prescription drug epidemic continues to have on this region.

    April 11, 2014

  • State officials cease efforts to stop advance of ash borer

    Kentucky’s war against the tiny emerald ash borer responsible for already killing more than 25 million ash trees in the eastern United States has ended in surrender — by state officials, not the tiny insect.

    April 8, 2014

  • Demise of apparel industry in Kentucky continues

    The steady demise of the once thriving clothing industry in small Kentucky towns continues with the latest factory to announce it is shutting down being one of the largest: Fruit of the Loom has announced it is closing its last remaining plant in Jamestown, a move that eventually will see the elimination of more than 600 jobs in the small town near Lake Cumberland.

    April 7, 2014

  • None on ballot

    The 2014 Kentucky General Assembly considered an unusually high number of proposed amendments to the Kentucky Constitution on such issues as casino gambling, the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons and the elimination of state and local elected offices.

    April 4, 2014

  • Time runs out

    Two bills proposed by House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins and designed to boost the economy of this region have apparently died in the Kentucky Senate after being approved by the House of Representatives. Despite easily being approved by the Democratic-controlled House, neither bill was even brought up for a vote by the Republican-controlled Senate.

    April 2, 2014