School board votes to consolidate Leatherwood and Viper Elementary schools

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Published: May. 25, 2023 at 12:20 PM EDT
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PERRY COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - The Perry County Board of Education voted Thursday to consolidate Leatherwood Elementary and Viper Elementary schools.

The motion was passed by a 3 to 2 vote during a special called meeting on Thursday. Students who previously attended Leatherwood Elementary will now attend Viper Elementary School.

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Perry County Schools Chief Finance Officer Jody Maggard said the decision will offer more opportunities for students.

“The board, the superintendent, district administration, they felt like that moving those kids now to Viper, provides them a more consistent education like what the other schools in our district are providing,” he said.

He added that it was in the best interest of students to have Leatherwood consolidate into Viper Elementary.

“I would just ask parents and guardians to give this opportunity a chance to work and see how the educational process with the teachers moving and the teacher collaborating now with Viper and Leatherwood and administration working together, I believe that we will see this truly is in the best interest of the Leatherwood students,” he explained.

“The decision was made with the best interest of the students at Leatherwood. And I believe that people have prayed about this, people have sought earnestly the advice of former educators, current educators.”

Maggard said the transition will begin as soon as possible.

“We will begin transitioning as early as tomorrow with closing day with staff, the Leatherwood staff has already been in communication with various department heads here at central office, the superintendent, board members have visited up there,” he said.

Mary Osborne is a parent who has a child at Leatherwood and she said that she was shocked by the decision.

“We really thought that our school would stay open. We really thought that we had board members that cared, but obviously we do not,” she said.

She said that this will negatively impact students from both Leatherwood and Viper.

“Other than the concerns that I touched based on the other day, that the detrimental effect this is going to have on all of the kids, not only Leatherwood’s kids, but Viper’s as well. They are not thinking of the big picture, not the money,” she explained.

Maggard said the decision comes after a decrease in enrollment at Leatherwood the past couple of years.

“They have went and talked to the educators at Leatherwood Elementary, they have seen first-hand the decline in the student enrollment up there, they have seen that students are not being offered the same extracurricular opportunities in class and out of the class at Leatherwood, as they are at other schools in the district,” he explained.

He said that with the consolidation, Viper will have approximately 300 students enrolled.

Maggard said the summer feeding program will not be impacted by this change.

He said they already have a transportation plan ready but will be announced at a later date.

Maggard said they will continue to update as more information is available.