CORBIN — Published Feb. 21, 2014
By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
“This is a major step, folks.”
Those were the words of Superintendent Ed McNeel after a special meeting Thursday morning, which saw the Corbin Board of Education approve a non-resident student agreement with Knox County Public Schools.
The one-year agreement would allow 405 non-resident students from Knox County to attend Corbin Independent Schools for the 2014-15 school year, which starts in August.
The agreement would also allow “any and all” Corbin students to attend Knox County Public Schools, also for the 2014-15 school year.
McNeel added, “This will now be submitted to the Knox County Superintendent, Kelly Sprinlkes, for their approval.”
After the special session that was held in the Corbin Center, McNeel mentioned the Knox County board could possibly decide on the agreement as early as next week.
According to records, Knox County Public Schools hold their regular board meetings on the fourth Tuesday of the month.
This month’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Board Annex in Barbourville.
If the Knox County board votes in favor of the agreement, the measure would go to the Kentucky Department of Education in Frankfort for their approval.
After years of being deadlocked over the agreement, the mood in the conference room was one of pure elation among board members and staff.
McNeel said, “I feel that the atmosphere there (in the Knox County Schools district) is more conducive to cooperation. Having the robotics team from Lynn Camp visit our high school helped some. It’s a more cooperative atmosphere at their school system now.”
During last month’s board meeting on Jan. 16, McNeel told board members he’d like to see Corbin schools participate more with other programs involving other school districts. In turn, those districts could participate with the Corbin district.
That was brought up after McNeel met earlier in December with Arthur Canada, a teacher at Lynn Camp High School who works with that school’s renowned robotics program. After Canada asked him if the Corbin schools would like to help their robotics program, McNeel agreed.
Lynn Camp High is one of the schools in the Knox County school district.
When asked why the number of Knox County students was set at 405, McNeel commented, “We’re maintaining relatively close to what we have now. …once the agreements are in place, we can work on how to place everyone. We don’t want to break up any families already here in our system.”
While Thursday’s agreement is for a one-year period, McNeel hopes the two school districts can work on a multi-year agreement, adding, “The legal issue is still active. If we can agree (on the non-resident student agreement), we can solve the legal issues,” he said.
In October 2012, the Corbin school board appealed the Kentucky Board of Education’s (KBE) decision earlier that month on the non-resident student agreement between Corbin and Knox County schools for the 2012-13 school year.
That came after the KBE agreed to uphold state Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday’s decision in July 2012, which Holliday said the Knox district’s rejecting “any and all non-resident student agreements proposed by Corbin” was “not arbitrary and capricious as a matter of law” under the Kentucky state Constitution.
The Corbin school district also has a lawsuit pending on the agreement pending in Franklin Circuit Court.
In 2009, Knox County ended the contract allowing students living in that county to attend Corbin schools at no cost.
All Corbin board members voted in favor of Thursday’s non-resident student agreement, after they returned to the special session.
That was after they went into executive session at 11:05 a.m. to discuss the acquisition or sale of real property, proposed or pending litigation, and/or personnel issues.
The executive session ended almost 20 minutes later. No formal action was taken.