Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 17, 2013

22 non-resident students caught in contract dispute

Students at Science Hill may find themselves in county district


Somerset —

Butcher noted that the percentage of students that Science Hill gets from Pulaski is less than fellow area school Somerset, which has a contract for 240 non-resident pupils in a school system of approximately 1,400, while Science Hill, a K-8 school, has approximately 550 students total with 172 of them being contracted for with the county district.
But it’s precisely because Science Hill is smaller that its superintendent, Rick Walker, feels they could be so adversely affected.
“We would lose $3,800 a kid,” said Walker, referring to the money the schools get paid per student from the state. “We’d have to lay off teachers. We’d have to figure out a way to tell the kids not to come back. For a huge district like Pulaski, 22 children may not seem like a big deal, but for a small district like ours, with a budget of less than $3 million, it’s a big deal.”
Walker stated to the Commonwealth Journal that research shows students who have to go to another school environment, thus interrupting their educational placement, causes a regression in academic achievement, and he is worried about that happening to students currently at Science Hill who would have to move to the Pulaski district for the 2013-14 school year should the new contract pass.
“How do you decide which kids to send out? I don’t think it’s in the kids’ best interest,” said Walker. “... If it can be shown to us that this is what’s best for the children, we’d be all for it, but I just don’t see it.”
At the meeting, Citak expressed concerns about dropping the student allotment for Science Hill, and felt it would have a dire impact to the financial integrity of the school and to the students, including possible layoffs. He also questioned if there had been prior discussion about the matter with Science Hill. Butcher answered that he had discussed the issue with Walker and that the board had not been happy with what they perceived as unfair reporting by Walker for some time.

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