The future of West Point Independent School and the district is in limbo.
The school, which serves preschoolers through eighth-graders, could face changes beginning as early as next school year, including closure, officials announced Tuesday at a special meeting. Citing financial troubles, a lack of staff and low test scores, West Point Independent Board of Education Chairman Eddie Moore said the school district must overcome numerous challenges if it wishes to open and maintain its status quo this upcoming school year.
“The school may close. That’s not our intention,” he said.
Moore said the school might close if the school does not hire for numerous positions, including a preschool teacher, first-grade teacher, fifth-grade teacher, middle school social studies, a special education and middle school science teacher in time for the first day school, slated to begin Aug. 20.
“If we don’t have any teachers, the state is going to shut us down,” Moore said.
Moore said the school also was classified as a “Comprehensive and Support Improvement” school at the elementary level last school year, a title from the Kentucky Department of Education that identifies the lowest performing schools in the state. Moore said the Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis also visited the school district earlier this year. While meeting with school district officials, Lewis suggested the school merge with Hardin County Schools, according to Moore. Moore rejected Lewis’ suggestion.
Moore said he and West Point Independent Superintendent Mickey Brangers also met with HCS Superintendent Teresa Morgan to discuss the logistics of a possible future merger. Under the proposed merger, sixth- through eighth-graders at West Point Independent School would go to another middle school in the Hardin County district, while West Point Independent School still would teach kindergarteners through fifth-graders, according to Moore. High schoolers also would attend North Hardin High School in Radcliff, as opposed to Elizabethtown High School, where most students go after leaving West Point Independent School.
In addition to test scores, Moore said the district is using $88,000 of its $950,000 savings for this upcoming school year’s budget.
“That’s not sustainable for too many years,” he said.
Moore also noted beginning in July 2021, the school district would have to pay for a school resource officer and school counselor as mandated by School Safety and Resiliency Act. School enrollment also fluctuates, which affects the amount of money the district receives from the state.
Moore said KDE also will subject the district to a “management audit” beginning July 29. According to KDE’s website, a management audit includes an investigation of the district’s compliance with state and federal statutes, administrative regulations and local board policies. Under completion of the audit, the education commissioner could recommend KDE assist or manage the school. The recommendation would have to be approved by the Kentucky Board of Education.
The next board meeting is slated for 6 p.m. July 16 in the school library.