It seems Carter County high schools are a lot closer to consolidation; in fact, to some, it seems like a given. For those on the West end, now is the time to contact board members, as well as the superintendent. West end stakeholders need to ask these questions: Why is it so hard to get money earmarked for West end projects? What exactly is to be gained from consolidation? Is the board making the most informed decision?

Districts often look toward consolidation when enrollment goes down or when funding is limited. Rather than look toward consolidation, perhaps we should look for what it takes to get money earmarked for West end projects. Have we truly exhausted every route to procure funding?

Of course, there is always a fiscal argument for consolidation, but there is a great cost to consolidation as well. In small communities the school is the pulse of the community; such is the case with the West end. The briefest of research will reveal that consolidation has a devastating impact on small economies. How is it possible that what is best for kids results in further decline of their local economy? The cost of a new consolidated high school seems like a poor fiscal choice if we’re truly concerned about what’s best for students.

There’s also the issue of rushed judgment. In May, the board declined to adopt the provisions of SB 128, which would allow students to repeat the 2020-21 school year. However, board member Rachel Fankell claimed that students wanted to play sports but not go to school. What she and other board members seemed to have no idea of was the fact that vocational students were short on their typical 200 hours of vocational practice, due to distancing requirements. Did the board investigate options and needs before they made their decision in May? Not likely.

Moreover, will the board actually choose a central location for a new high school? Dr. Green has pointed out that many high school students drive to avoid the morning rush of buses, but do you want your high school student driving the interstate to Grayson each day for school?

Again, this is a time for hard questions. West owes it to its kids and community to ask these questions of the decision makers.

Justin Tackett

Olive Hill

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