The Pike County Schools District’s Local Planning Committee voted not to begin phasing out three of its elementary schools, despite a state recommendation.
The Kentucky Department of Education marked three of the Pike County Schools District’s 11 elementary schools as being recommended for “transitional” status in a draft of the district’s facility plan. The committee discussed the draft and the state’s recommendations during its meeting on Thursday.
Bevins Elementary School, Dorton Elementary School and Feds Creek Elementary School were recommended by KDE to be changed from “permanent” to “transitional,” which would mark them to be eventually phased out as educational centers for the district.
“The reason why they want to get your take on it this evening and send it back is because they did have a note in there to consider and recommending to mark some of your elementary schools as ‘transitional,’ and I know that just geographically it’s impossible,” said Scott Noel, architectural business team leader with Summit Architectural Services, who explained the KDE’s recommendations during the committee meeting.
A district facility plan is a review of recommendations made by KDE on improvements that can be made to a school district’s organizational structure, facilities, capacity and status of capital construction priorities, which are the “mechanism to use restricted capital funds.”
According to the KDE, a “permanent” facility meets at least four of six criteria established for an existing school, including student assessment, transportation, fiscal equity, equitable educational opportunity, building or site evaluation and parent or community support.
However, Noel said KDE focuses on the number of enrolled students at a school to help determine whether that school should be marked as “permanent” or “transitional.”
Based on the student enrollment and capacity numbers of each school in 2018, Bevins Elementary School’s capacity was 300 students, while enrollment totaled 214, and Dorton Elementary School’s capacity was 425 students, while its enrollment totaled 292.
Feds Creek Elementary School saw the lowest enrollment with 193 students enrolled in a capacity of 550.
“Any school they see dip below 300, they immediately start thinking that it needs to be transitioned out, needs redistricting or something like that,” Noel said. “A lot of times they don’t look at the geographic locations of a lot of these schools.”
Assistant Superintendent Freddie Bowling agreed with Noel, saying that he believes phasing out the three schools would cause longer bus routes for students who attend those schools and live in rural areas around the county.
“I don’t think they actually see where our schools are located,” Bowling said. “One of the issues with changing schools to ‘transitional’ is it restricts how much funds you can then spend on that school.”
According to the draft of the plan, the district’s 2018 enrollment totaled 69 percent of the capacity of the facilities. The committee approved not making the three schools transitional on the draft of the plan.
According to the KDE, the facilities planning process allows districts to chart a course in their construction planning that will provide for “equitable and adequate” facilities for the students that they serve.
The committee made several revisions to the draft of the plan and approved it at the end of the meeting. After approving it, the committee’s revisions will return back to the KDE.