Community members speak out against school consolidation

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 11:03 PM EST
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OLIVE HILL, Ky. (WSAZ) - The Carter County school board is considering consolidating East Carter and West Carter high schools.

At a public forum on the issue Thursday night at Olive Hill Elementary, community members shared their reservations about the proposal with the local planning committee.

“West Carter is the soul of Olive Hill, Kentucky,” Rita Cartee told the committee from behind a podium in the elementary school gym.

Superintendent Paul Green says one of the pros would be a new career and technical center located at the same site as the new school.

“We could probably add eight to ten vocational pathways,” Green said. “That would be opportunities for our kids to learn these job skills and be able to have opportunities that just aren’t going to happen under the current format.”

He says consolidation is being considered now because of decreased enrollment and an increase in possible funding.

“We don’t really expect a lot of cost savings from this,” Green said. ”It’s more of an opportunity to have a state-of-the-art facility and opportunities for our kids.”

Several who spoke at the forum shared the same concern about what the loss of their own school would do to their town.

“I’m worried about our number one employer going away,” Wayne Russell, a parent who’s also on Olive Hill City Council, said.

“Every business in this town from a gas station to Dollar General to a restaurant revolves around that school,” Olive Hill Mayor Jerry Callihan said at the forum. “There’s nothing else left here but our high school.”

Beverly Barker teaches on both sides of the county.

“I love the kids on both sides of the county, but I also love the rivalry,” she said.

“You’re going to have one football team,” Cartee said. “You’re going to have one girls basketball team. There are kids that need the opportunity of leadership, of teamwork, of discipline, that are going to miss out.”

The superintendent says the board hopes to have a final decision on whether this project will move forward by May.

The next public forum on the topic will be held Feb. 7 at Prichard Elementary in Grayson.

The superintendent says there’s been no decision on where the new school would be located. He says if it’s approved, it would most likely be four years until the new school would open.

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