Eastern Kentucky schools losing enrollment

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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Enrollments in eastern Kentucky public school districts are falling as the region continues its economic struggles amid a declining coal industry.

The issue has a direct impact on school funding. The largest factor determining how much money a public school gets from the state is its average adjusted daily attendance.

Two independent groups, the Council on Better Education and the University of Kentucky's Center for Innovation in Education, are studying the state's Support Education Excellence in Kentucky funding program, also referred to as SEEK.

A draft of the Council on Better Education's study by the consulting firm Piccus Odden & Associates suggested the state could use the greater of a three-year rolling attendance average to give districts more time to adjust to declines in funding while not penalizing districts that are growing.

"Another thing would be to potentially look at how you could set some minimum funding levels so that small schools in small districts were not impacted as heavily from the loss of enrollment," said Tom Shelton, superintendent of Fayette County Schools and president of the Council on Better Education.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear said population fluctuations are one of many issues school districts face, "especially when some funding is tied to student counts."

"I am awaiting the findings of these studies, and feedback from the Kentucky Board of Education, before considering what, if any, changes we should consider in our current school funding formula," Beshear said.

Here is a list of public school districts in eastern Kentucky and the number of students they have gained (+) or lost (-) since the 1999-00 school year:

Ashland Independent: -282 students

Barbourville Independent: +5 students

Bath County: +199 students

Bell County: -296 students

Boyd County: -250 students

Breathitt County: -509 students

Carter County: -113 students

Clay County: -931 students

Elliott County: -221 students

Fairview Independent: +227 students

Fleming County: -149 students

Floyd County: -1,267 students

Greenup County: -396 students

Harlan County: -1,153 students

Harlan Independent: -131 students

Hazard Independent: -90 students

Jackson County: -258 students

Jackson Independent: -32 students

Jenkins Independent: -104 students

Johnson County: -46 students

Knott County: -777 students

Knox County: -577 students

Laurel County: +820 students

Lawrence County: -436 students

Lee County: -324 students

Leslie County: -531 students

Letcher county: -568 students

Lewis County: -195 students

Magoffin County: -497 students

Martin County: -623 students

Menifee County: -9 students

Middlesboro Independent: -502 students

Montgomery County: +974 students

Morgan County: -313 students

Owsley County: -204 students

Paintsville Independent: +72 students

Perry County: -754 students

Pike County: -1,746 students

Pikeville Independent: -86 students

Pineville Independent: -156 students

Powell County: -258 students

Raceland Worthington Independent: +83 students

Rowan County: +102 students

Russell Independent: -28 students

Whitley County: -168 students

Williamsburg Independent: +2 students

Wolfe County: -113 students

Total gain/loss: -12,609 students

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