Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 21, 2012

Greenup schools losing students

District looking at options to retain children

Mike James
The Independent

Lloyd — Losing large numbers of students to outside schools is costing the Greenup district hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding and the board of education is trying to decide what to do about it.

At last count, 423 Greenup students opted out of the district this school year while 43 came in from other districts, according to Superintendent Steve Hall.

Greenup’s enrollment is 2,920, according to the district’s website.

The students and their families still live in the Greenup district but switched schools under non-resident agreements between districts.

Under the agreements, state per-pupil funding follows such students to the district they attend. For each student, that comes to close to $4,000 in state aid.

Hall estimated Greenup is losing around $1.5 million this year as a result. In a yearly general fund budget of $18.3 million, that is a significant amount. “In these times of budget constraints, you can see the issue for our board,” he said.

Of the lost students, 200 go to Raceland and 184 to Russell; the rest go to other districts.

Following a board meeting last week, Hall and board chairwoman Kelly Adkins made arrangements to meet with superintendents and board representatives from those two districts.

What the board ultimately will do is not yet known. The board is not looking to withdraw from the agreements, which have to be ratified each year. But the net loss of students is an important issue and the talks will be held with the goal of coming to a “more equitable” agreement, Hall said.

Some students choose other districts for athletic opportunities, others for academics. A few who live on the fringes of the sprawling Greenup district attend other schools because they are closer. That is particularly true for students who live within convenient distances from Carter and Lewis county schools, Hall said.

There is no standard formula for non-resident agreements, said Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association. Almost all Kentucky schools have them with adjoining districts.

Some agreements are made on a student-for-student basis: districts allow only as many students to go to a neighboring district as come from that district.

Other districts have snarled themselves in years of litigation over agreements gone bad.

The number of students leaving Greenup has been growing. A year ago, when the board last discussed the issue, 383 students had enrolled at other districts. The board at that time tabled the issue.

A few years earlier, in 2006-2007, Greenup’s net loss was 220.

The acceleration may be in part because of Greenup’s academic woes; the school was labeled “persistently low achieving” by the state and has been operating under an improvement plan.

“We feel today our quality of instruction and educational opportunities are improving. We’re not satisfied but we’re moving forward,” Hall said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.