Reciprocal dispute

FRANKFORT Greenup County schools may continue to reduce the number of students it loses to the neighboring Raceland-Worthington district if the state board of education accepts an official’s recommendation to deny Raceland’s request for unlimited cross-district enrollment.

A hearing officer found that Raceland had failed to make its case that Greenup should be required to allow any and all students living in its boundaries to attend Raceland schools, with Raceland receiving the state funding for those students.

The officer recommended that the Kentucky Board of Education order that, unless the districts agree otherwise, Raceland only receive state funding for Greenup County resident students enrolled in Raceland schools during the school years 2012-13 to 2018-19 school years, until those students graduate or otherwise leave Raceland schools.

The recommendation came in an administrative action document issued Friday.

The hearing officer found that Raceland provided little evidence or proof for its contentions that losing funding from non-resident students would harm students, deprive them of constitutionally required adequate education, expose them to inadequacies in the Greenup system or adversely impact Raceland programs and facilities.

Raceland also failed to prove its claim that Greenup could better afford to lose the revenue, the officer found.

The officer upheld Greenup’s claim that losing students to Raceland impacted its bus system by diverting state transportation aid.

The two districts have been sparring over non-resident students since 2012, when Greenup’s board sought to decrease the number of students it was losing to Raceland and other neighboring districts.

State school funding is based on student numbers, so when fewer students are enrolled, a district receives less money.

Most districts have reciprocal agreements with neighboring districts allowing the state funding to follow the student to the other district, but the agreements assume roughly equal numbers of students will cross districts.

Raceland, however, was receiving significantly more students from Greenup than it was sending to the county district. Also both districts have seen a downward trend in enrollment in recent years. That leaves both districts scrambling for the money needed to fund programs and services.

Former state education Commissioner Wayne D. Lewis Jr. last year called for cross-enrollment on a one-to-one basis, with an exception for multiple-child families with one or more children already enrolled in the other district. That was a preliminary decision, however, and the state board will make the final ruling.

If the state board accepts the recommendation, Greenup would not have to abide by a provision of Lewis’s decision that families with children already in the Raceland district could enroll younger children at Raceland once they reached school age.

But Greenup will not necessarily insist on following the recommendation to the letter, Superintendent Traysea Moresea said. “I will have to talk to the board. I want to discuss what they want to do . . . we’ll lean in the direction of being fair to students,” she said.

Raceland Superintendent Larry Coldiron said the school board would discuss the document and options. The board meets next on Jan. 27.

The state board’s next meeting is Feb, 4, and the issue is not yet on the agenda for that meeting, a spokeswoman said.

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