School board hosts town hall regarding the future for one elementary school

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 9:33 PM EDT
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LEATHERWOOD, Ky. (WYMT) - More than 100 concerned parents and community members gathered for a public forum Tuesday.

Last week, Perry County Schools released a statement regarding concern for the declining student population at Leatherwood Elementary School.

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6

During the 2022-23 school year, there were just 99 students enrolled.

There are approximately 87 students enrolled for the 2023-24 school year.

Perry County Schools Chief Financial Officer Jody Maggard said the school population has declined 57 percent in ten years.

“It was not like it happened overnight, it has been a gradual decline in our whole school system. Here in rural eastern Kentucky it is still a battle,” he said.

If Leatherwood were to close, students would join Viper Elementary School, located 12 miles away.

Some people are not happy about the possibility.

Felicia Cress has two students currently enrolled and she said it will be hard on them.

“These kids will have to start school all over again for the very first time. They are going to have to adjust to a new building, classmates, teachers and it is going to be hard for a lot of them to pick up and start where they left off,” she said.

She claimed that this is not fair for students that live close to the school.

“Some of these parents here do not have the funds to take these kids to school. And every time they put those kids on that bus, it is putting their life at risk,” she explained.

Cress said that students will fall behind due to having less attention from teachers and staff.

“If they consolidate these schools, it is less one on one time for these kids. How are they going to learn, how will they learn,” she said.

Maggard said that they will take what they heard from the meeting, and work towards a decision.

“We understand it is a big decision, and so, the board will take all of the comments, all that they have learned here tonight from the parents and the concerns that they have,” he explained.

He said that by the next school board meeting in June, they will have more updates.