Following several surprising years of positive and steady enrollment, Harlan County Schools began this year with nearly 200 students fewer than in 2013-14.
As expected, the greatest decline was in the largest facility — Harlan County High School — which started the year down 75 students, as calculated on the 10th day of school in both years.
However, while the high school finished the 2013-14 school year with 1,040 students on May 29, the school reported a total of 1,041 enrolled on Aug. 19, so the differences are not really that great, said Superintendent Mike Howard.
“So far our year is starting off great,” he told the board of education during their recent meeting. “We’ve got 4,000 kids in school, and our staff is really excited about giving them all a great education.”
While most schools in the system reported a small drop in enrollment, as measured on the 10th day, two schools had very slight increases.
Cawood elementary is up seven students and Green Hills is up two. The biggest decline among the elementary schools is at Black Mountain and Cumberland with 28 each. Rosspoint is down 23. James A. Cawood is down 17, while Evarts and Wallins are down 16 and 15, respectively.
Total enrollment in Harlan County Schools stood at 4,207 on the 10th day of 2013-14 and at 4,014 on the 10th day this year, for a difference of 193 fewer students, according to figures supplied to the board.
“Again, it’s just a reflection of the tough economy and hard times we are having in our community right now,” Howard said. “People have to leave to find work. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before.”
A new school year also means changes in employment and Howard reported a total of 21 staff had been hired to certified positions, along with eight transfers and two retirements. Among classified employees, the school district has hired 12 to fill positions, had one transfer and accepted six resignations.
In other action, the board:
• Approved payment of claims totaling $1,109,453.72;
• Approved a contract for the resource centers to provide a motivational assembly;
• Approved a trip for the New Harlan seventh- and eighth-grade football team to Powell Valley Middle School in Big Stone Gap, Va., on Sept. 16;
• Approved an Evarts elementary Beta Club trip to Atlanta on May 19-22, 2015;
• Approved the District Facilities Plan and approved an agreement with Clotfelter-Samokar for work on that plan;
• Held a 52-minute executive session to discuss pending litigation;
• Announced the next meeting for Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the central office.