Reciprocal dispute

Raceland and Greenup disagree on cross-district policy.

LLOYD Greenup County and Raceland Independent school officials will meet today with a state-appointed hearing officer to resolve a dispute about enrolling children across district lines.

The meeting is the first of four scheduled to settle the matter, which has been simmering for about six years. Raceland wants to be able to enroll any and all students from the Greenup district, with state per-pupil funding following the students.

Greenup opposes the proposal and thinks cross-district enrollment should be limited, with no more Greenup students allowed to go to Raceland than come to Greenup from Raceland.

The dispute comes down to money, because state funding is based on the number of children attending school. More Greenup families want to send their children Raceland than the other way around, resulting in a net loss of state funding to Greenup.

Raceland had asked Greenup earlier this year for an agreement that would allow any and all families to send their children to either district, but Greenup denied the request.

Raceland appealed to acting Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis. Lewis’s decision favored Greenup. He ruled the districts may cross-enroll on a one-for-one basis, except for multiple-child families that already have students enrolled in the other district. Those families may keep all their children in their district of choice until the last one graduates.

The hearing officer, who was appointed by the Kentucky Board of Education, will listen to evidence and arguments from both districts and make a recommendation to the state board. After that, both sides will have time to file exceptions to the recommendation and then the state board will then put the matter on its agenda.

Raceland’s position mainly focuses on its academic performance and the impact loss of Greenup County students would have on programs, facility, transportation and staffing, said district treasurer Dustin Stephenson.

Raceland also disputes Greenup’s need for the state revenue generated by students who would attend Raceland, Stephenson said.

He pointed to Greenup’s budget and its fund balance, which has grown from $1.4 million in 2012 to $4.5 million in 2018. “They’re not necessarily spending that money on students,” he said.

“We are very conscientious about our financial responsibilities and we use our funding in the best interests of our students and make sure they get what they need,” Greenup interim superintendent Traysea Moresea said. “I find it difficult to believe any school system is overfunded.”

Greenup will argue state law does not support Raceland’s appeal, said James W. Lyon Jr., Greenup’s attorney.

The decision does not properly lie with the state board but with the legislature, Lyon said.

Ideally the general assembly should clarify the issue, he said.

The two districts have been at odds since 2013, when they entered into an agreement capping the number of Greenup children who could cross over. It took a mediator to finalize the agreement, which capped at 191 the number of Greenup students allowed to cross over. The cap was lowered in subsequent years.

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mjames@dailyindependent.com

Mike James is The Independent's education reporter. He has covered news in Northeast Kentucky since 1996.