Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 12, 2014

Science Hill & Somerset schools reject contracts

County School Board wants to limit non-resident tradition in effort to preserve state funding

Somerset —

The idea that the Pulaski County School System would prevent any students living in its district from attending class elsewhere in the area isn’t sitting well with the other local schools.
On Tuesday night, both the Somerset Independent and Science Hill school boards rejected the contract sent to them by the county district regarding non-resident pupil attendance.
In mid-January, the Pulaski County School Board approved contracts that would disallow any students living within the boundaries of the county district to attend school at either Somerset or Science Hill, unless they were siblings with a student that was already enrolled at one of the other systems. This would be applicable for the upcoming 2014-15 school year.
Last year, Pulaski County enacted such a contract with Sci-ence Hill, after years of allowing 172 non-resident pupils to attend the northern Pulaski K-8 school. However, in prior years, Somerset has been allowed 240 county territory students, so this was a drastic change for the city school district.
The contract that Pulaski County drew up would allow any and all students from either the city or Science Hill to attend the county schools if they choose.
A school district gets close to $3,800 per student in SEEK money per child, meaning the more students a school has, the more money they have coming from state government coffers. More students going to the county district rather than the two smaller ones means more state money for the larger system, and less for the others.
There has been a backlash in the community as a result of the county school board’s decision, with a community group forming on Facebook called “Pulaski County Parents for School Choice.” The group had 535 “likes” as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Science Hill Board on Tuesday unanimously decided not to accept Pulaski County’s contract as written, and instead, with the help of legal counsel Winter Huff, drafted their own contract to send back to the county. Science Hill’s would take a much more wide-open approach — any and all students from Science Hill who want to attend a county school can, and any and all from Pulaski County territory who want to attend Science Hill may as well.

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