Breathitt Elementary creates new era for school district

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Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 4:37 PM EDT
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JACKSON, Ky. (WYMT) - Breathitt County Schools enrollment has decreased in the last decade, leading administrators to make changes.

”Since 2010-2011, we’ve lost over 550 students, and there’s lots of factors we can point to on enrollment loss, but we started having to make decisions that we could see that were sustainable, that would strengthen the district for the future. So, I’m really proud of the work we’ve done on that,” said Breathitt County Schools Superintendent Phillip Watts.

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After a five-year construction process, classes have began in Breathitt Elementary School.

The school hosts pre-school through 2nd grade, while 3-6 graders go to Sebastian Elementary School and 7-12 graders attend Breathitt County High School.

With more attention drawn to earlier grades, students get the chance to enhance important skills.

“It’s a huge change when you get to third grade on the types of things that’s expected of you, and if you can’t read by that time, and we’ve seen that in the past, then kids, they fall behind. So, we’re really wanting to make sure that we give them a good start,” said Breathitt Elementary Principal Jason Fugate.

Fugate was the principal at Marie Roberts-Caney Elementary for seven years before the school district sold the building to Riverside Christian School. He called Breathitt Elementary a chance for everyone to reset after recent regional disasters.

“It’s definitely a reset. It’s a little challenging. You’re bringing staff and kids from two different schools together, you know, to form this school, but it has been really, really good,” he said.

The school also includes new additions, like an auditorium for students and the community, as well as a storm shelter.