Four months into the year, enrollment figures at Harlan County Schools continue to show a surprising amount of growth when compared to the prior year.
During Thursday’s regular monthly meeting of the board of education, Superintendent Michael Howard reported total enrollment at 4,122 students, compared to 4,010 at this point last year.
Given continued losses in population and jobs due to a severely depressed coal industry, school officials had expected a continued decline in enrollment, plus a gradual loss of students during the year. The fact that none of those things has occurred has been a pleasant surprise.
“It’s a welcome sight to see,” Howard commented.
The superintendent attributed the gains to growth in the kindergartens, which, while a positive trend, does not provide much immediate help to the district with its state attendance funding since districts only receive half the amount per student at that level as they do for all other students.
Enrollment at the high school is up as well, he said.
He also commented on the impact of consolidation of schools in nearby Lee County, Va., had, particularly in the Clover Fork area.
In a related matter, the board approved the terms for reciprocal contracts for non-resident students for next school year with Leslie County, Letcher County and Pineville Independent. The agreement with Leslie County will be limited to no more than 20 students each, while Letcher and Pineville will have no caps placed on the number of students who can cross district lines.
Existing agreements with Harlan Independent and Bell County are multi-year contracts and are not nearing their expiration dates.
In other action, the board:
- Agreed to pay claims in the aggregate amount of $983,268.13
- Approved payment of $28,539.89 to various vendors for work completed on the Harlan County High School football field
- Approved a disaster day request for Green Hills Elementary School for September 10, 2012 due to a main waterline break
- Accepted the best of four quotes for scraping of surplus food service equipment with no monetary value
- Put out for bids by food services for food and supplies for the period of January 1-June 30, 2013
- Approved six weeks maternity leave for a central office employee beginning November 21, 2012, following seven days of sick leave for November 12-20
- Approved a medical leave of absence for a teacher for the remainder of the school year
- Escrowed a KETS offer of assistance for three years in the amount of $38,664 involved in the purchase of new buses
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Harlan County Public Schools and the Appalachian Educational Talent Search program provided through the Douglas Cherokee Economic Authority
- Approved a Resolution of Support for Smoke Free Kentucky
- Accepted a quote of $72,477 for worker’s compensation coverage from Public Entity Insurance for the 2013 plan year
- Approved a trip by the Harlan County High School Winter Guard (a band program) to Hardin Valley, TN., on January 26 for a training event
- Agreed to reimburse food services for the cost of local law enforcement officers receiving one free meal per day in schools. Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird shared a plan with board members to help increase the presence of deputies in the schools without increasing his or the board’s costs, and the board agreed to provide meals as an incentive to his plan.