With Kentucky’s open enrollment law set to take effect soon, the community’s two smaller public school systems are looking ahead to enrolling new students.
Science Hill School, the single-facility district in northern Pulaski, announced that they will be enrolling out-of-district students beginning May 2, with the number of those accepted based on available room and resources.
“HB 563 is the ‘Open Borders’ law,” said Science Hill Superintendent Jimmy Dyehouse. “Simply put, starting in August this year, parents will have a choice in where they want their students to attend school. SEEK (Support Education Excellence in Kentucky) money will follow the student to the school they attend.
“In-district students will of course have priority,” he added, “but out-of-district students who have siblings already enrolled will go to the front of the line to reserve a spot in our school.”
On Monday, May 2, the open enrollment document will go live on the school’s web page, https://www.science.k12.ky.us, as well as the school’s Facebook page. Director of Pupil Personnel Kellie Wilson noted that current students do not need to fill it out, only those from out of the district wishing to attend at Science Hill.
“The Google Doc will time-stamp everything and that is our criteria; we are going from number one down, based on the time stamp,” Wilson said. “So the sooner the better. … We have some criteria set, which is basically all a capacity issue. Do we have enough faculty to meet the students’ needs? As long as we do, then that’s going to be our ruler to measure how many we can take. “
When the school is “full” for the school year, Wilson said she’ll make that known, but those interested can continue to apply and “get in line for the next school year,” she said.
Dyehouse said that the school is looking forward to having new faces in the building at the start of the school year in August.
“We are expecting Science Hill’s enrollment to grow, so this is a much-needed change and one that I have fought for since I became a superintendent here,” he said. “I have always felt that parents should have a say in what school their child attends. Parents know what’s best for their family.”
Kyle Lively, Superintendent of the Somerset Independent School System, said his district is also preparing for open enrollment, and said they actually started last year, for anyone who wanted to come into the city district.
Lively said that anyone interested in attending a Somerset school should contact either that school (Hopkins Elementary, Meece Middle, or Somerset High School) and ask for the principal or counselor, or contact the district’s central office at 606-679-4451 and speak to attendance specialist Donna Wilson.
“We can get (the interested party) an application, and all they’ve got to do is get that back to us and get the process going,” Lively said. He noted that the process for kindergarten is a bit different than other grades, but still encouraged contacting the school or Wilson for more information. They also noted that they hope to be able to let people know if the schools have met their enrollment limit or not by the beginning of June.
As for Pulaski County Schools, the area’s largest district, Superintendent Patrick Richardson, said of his district’s plans for enrollment, “We’re not sure yet. We’re going to be discussing that and probably make a decision at the May (school board ) meeting. “
HB 563, which passed in 2021 through the Kentucky legislature, was purposed to allow the inclusion of nonresident pupils in a district’s average daily attendance and require a local board of education to adopt a non-resident student policy and forbid discrimination among non-resident students. While the policy must be in place for the coming school year, each district can set their own policy parameters. The bill effectively eliminated the need for districts to have individual contacts between each other regulating out-of-district student enrollment, which had been a frequent topic of discussion between local school systems in the past.