west point to possibly merge with hardin county schools

WEST POINT, Ky. (WDRB) -- West Point Independent School District said it's struggling to sustain its only school.

A letter was sent home to parents Tuesday saying at the next board meeting, the district will vote on whether or not to enter into negotiations with Hardin County Schools about a possible merger. 

“There really isn’t anything else to cut (in the budget)," West Point Interim Superintendent Dr. Sally Sugg said. 

Sugg said the district currently has 149 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. In the letter, she said average daily attendance has continued to decline since 2016, which affects the school's funding. 

"We’re already doing without some of the services I think a school should have," Sugg said."We have no day-time custodian here at the school. We all pitch in and do the work. We don’t have full-time guidance counselors here.

“We really need to have the arts in our school, and we can’t afford to have band and some of those kinds of opportunities that kids need."

Sugg said she anticipates the vote will pass, and negotiations will begin shortly after. 

“I also assume that if those talks don’t bear fruit, then (West Point) at some point would have a decision to make about whether we would close our doors or not," she said. 

But the decision to merge isn't simply a matter of numbers, despite the budget being stretched thin. There's a lot of emotion involved as well. 

“We have really small class sizes, and that’s wonderful. We also have a good family atmosphere. Everyone knows everybody here. People in the community are supportive of the school, and all of the teachers know all of the students. Those are wonderful things," Sugg said. “Many of our parents went to school here, their parents went to school here, and even their grandparents went to school here. So it’s a family tradition, and I understand that’s a really, really tough thing to think about no longer having that for their students.”

However, Sugg believes students would have more opportunity if a merger could be discussed. Hardin County's Superintendent Teresa Morgan said the district is open to negotiations with West Point, and if one were to happen, the students would be able to stay together. 

“They’re coming from a community," Morgan said. "We would want them to stay in the community, as a community. We have no intention of dividing up those students.” 

According to Morgan, if a merger were to happen, kindergarten and pre-school students would attend the early learning academy at North Park Elementary School.  Students in first through fifth grades would attend one of the four other elementary schools in the northern part of the county: Vine Grove, Meadow View, Woodland or Radcliff. A single school would be chosen to take in all West Point students, but exactly which school would depend on what the negotiations decided. 

Middle school students would attend a feeder school that pulls from whichever elementary school is chosen. High school students would end up at North Hardin High School. 

As it currently stands, West Point students feed into Elizabethtown High School. Both districts hope that if a merger does happen, students currently in high school would be able to complete their high school career where they are.

“I think, in the end, after students are acclimated into Hardin County Schools, if this merger takes place, the students will be resilient, and the adults will be the ones that are having the hard time with it," Sugg said. “It’s going to be a hard decision, but I know all of the people involved here are going to be putting kids first.”

That vote on whether or not to negotiate with Hardin County Schools will take place during West Point's school board meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 in the school's library. 

Anyone with questions or concerns is encouraged to email West Point at futureofwps@westpoint.kyschools.us.

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