LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Call it addition by subtraction. A central Kentucky lawmaker has filed a bill that would reduce the number of school districts in the state in an effort to save money.
Rep. Toby Herald (R-Beattyville) said HB 242 would result in "a big savings."
The bill would consolidate the 173 school districts in Kentucky down to 55, based on population.
Herald said the move would save money on administration. He claimed the budgets for central office payrolls have "gotten out of hand," and the money could be better used elsewhere.
"Increase pay for teachers: the money would go to the kids in the school, in the classroom," Herald told WDRB News.
The Anchorage Independent School District in eastern Jefferson Co. would cease to exist under HB 242, and merge with JCPS.
Anchorage is one of the smallest school districts in the state with 380 students in grades K-8. But it is also one of the higher performing, with proficiency scores well above the state average.
"The children really receive individualized attention. And the principal, and the teachers, and the community as a whole, really support the kids," said Laura Hammer, who has a second grader at Anchorage.
Hammer said she would be "disappointed" if Anchorage were forced to merge with a larger district.
Anchorage Superintendent Kelley Ransdell also opposes the bill.
"I'm strongly opposed to any legislation that would eliminate local decision making in all of our school districts," she said.
So far, Herald's idea is not getting much traction at the Capitol.
"I think at this point, we need to get other things in our house in order before we go down that road," said Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt.
House Education Committee chairman Rep. John "Bam" Carney said he understands the motivation behind the bill, but added that he has heard a lot of opposition.
"Nobody wants to lose that identity. Oftentimes our schools kind of identify your community," said Carney.
But Herald is pushing back. He said no schools would be forced to close under his bill.
"The school stays where they're at -- the same names of the school, and so forth. All I'm doing is consolidating the central office," he said.
The bill has been assigned to Carney's Education Committee but, so far, it has not been scheduled for a hearing.
Here is how some other Louisville-area districts would be affected by HB 242:
- Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, Metcalfe, and Monroe Counties would consolidate
- Larue and Nelson Counties would merge
- All districts within Hardin Co. would merge, as would the districts inside Bullitt, Oldham, and Franklin Counties
- Shelby and Spencer Co. schools would consolidate
- Carroll, Gallatin, Henry, Trimble and Owen Counties would merge
- Marion, Mercer, and Washington Counties would consolidate
You can read all of HB 242 here.
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