Tribune-Courier General Manager
The exodus of students from McCracken County into Marshall County continues, with a 106 transfers reported as the new school year gets under way.
That’s a record number, according to Ledonia Williamson, director of pupil personnel for Marshall County Schools. There were 74 students who transferred last year, she said.
“The vast majority of these students are here because of the new McCracken County High School,” Williamson said. “Others are unhappy with the school system for one reason or another,” said Williamson.
The new school will consolidate Heath, Lone Oak and Reidland high schools when it opens in the 2013-2014 school year.
Many parents have voiced objection to the daily commute their children will have to make, either by school bus or in private vehicles, to the new campus on U.S. Highway 60 west of Kentucky Oaks Mall in West Paducah.
Reidland students are particularly affected by that location, on the other side of the city of Paducah.
Sharpe Elementary, which is just across the county line from Reidland, and North Marshall Middle School have had the greatest growth, Williamson said, with 41 and 34 incoming transfer students, respectively.
Marshall County High School has added 24 new students. Transfers from McCracken have also been added to the enrollment at Calvert, Central and Benton elementary schools, plus Benton Middle School.
Whatever the reason for the transfers, Williamson said Marshall County is prepared and glad to have them. She said the biggest pinch for space is being felt at Sharpe Elementary, but the middle and high schools have plenty of room.
North Marshall Middle School was built to accommodate 600-plus students and currently has 583. The high school’s current enrollment is 1,337, well below the school’s capacity of 1,500 students, according to Williamson.
Marshall County has a reciprocal agreement with McCracken County to allow students living outside the county to attend classes here. In a typical year 25 or 30 students will cross the line into the neighboring county, resulting in a balance of students coming and going. The reason for this is typically to allow for reasons such as family issues or jobs.
That trend started to change in 2010 when plans for the new high school were made public. That year Marshall had 62 students cross the line. Each year since then the number has grown.
Williamson said there have been no talks between the systems to discontinue the reciprocal agreement given the current imbalance of enrollment.
“I really think that would be a public relations nightmare for them,” said Williamson.
Current enrollment in Marshall County Schools is at 4,611 students, which is exactly the same number as at the start of the 2011 school year.