BOYD COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS - a brief history
To accomplish the assignment of the writing of the history of the Boyd County Public Schools system with brevity, this writer has elected to mention in passing some selected significant milestones in that history, while addressing in more depth some of the most pivotal milestones.
Boyd County Public Schools originated as a conglomerate of one– and two-room graded schools. A hallmark event occurred in 1929 when Boyd County High School graduated its first class. Prior to that time, those young people who wished to go beyond the eighth grade generally enrolled in either Catlettsburg High School or Ashland High School in nearby cities. Boyd County High School enrolled its first students in the 1920’s using Cannonsburg Methodist Church as temporary quarters until a high school facility was built.
At the inception of the Boyd County Public Schools system, the entire Boyd County Public Schools district was rural and, in fact, very sparsely populated. Gradually the one– and two-room schools, having such colorful names as Slippery Rock, Long Branch and Arat, were consolidated into such larger schools as Summit Elementary, Cannonsburg Elementary and England Hill Elementary. But, eventually Summit became so large (over 900 students) that part of its students were sent to a newly-constructed Ironville Elementary. England Hill eventually disappeared, as its students were divided between the newly constructed Eidson Elementary and Cooper Elementary schools.
When the writer became an administrator in Boyd County Public Schools for the 1966-67 school term, the District was comprised of these schools:
Cannonsburg Elementary—grades 1-8; Summit Elementary—grades 1-8; Ironville Elementary—grades 1-8; Cooper Elementary—grades 1-8; Eidson Elementary—grades 1-8; Durbin Elementary—grades 1-6; Garner Elementary—grades 1-6; Boyd County High School—grades 9-12.
The first junior high school (grades 7-9) in the district opened for the 1974-75 school year in the former Catlettsburg High School facility that had become part of the Boyd County Public Schools system in 1974. For the 1976-77 school year a second junior high school, Summit Junior High School, was opened in a new facility to include grades 7-9 in the western portion of the county. Beginning with the 1993-94 school year, the configuration of Boyd County Public Schools was changed to include grades 9-12, rather than grades 10-12 at Boyd County High School and the former Summit Junior High School facility became the home of grades 6-8 in the facility known today as Boyd County Middle School.
From its beginnings as a very sparsely populated rural area in the ‘20’s, the Boyd County Public Schools district has entered the new millennium as a district largely rural South of I-64 and largely suburban north of I-64. The population residing within the boundaries of the district now represents almost fifty percent of the total population of Boyd County. At its inception, the population residing within the Boyd County Public Schools district was only a minuscule portion of the population of the entire county, as the city of Ashland was home to most of Boyd County’s populace.
The milestone events in the history of Boyd County Public Schools system for which this writer has chosen to provide a more lengthy analysis are:
• Merger of the Catlettsburg Independent School system with the Boyd County Public Schools system in 1974.
• KERA (Kentucky Education Reform Act) arrives in 1990.
The merger of the Catlettsburg Independent School System with the Boyd County School System became effective on July 1, 1974. While the Catlettsburg Schools had come upon hard times due to such factors as declining enrollment, decaying buildings and financial problems that made merger a very rational decision on the part of the Catlettsburg Board of Education, the decision was very unpopular with some of the citizenry. Especially unpopular was conversion of Catlettsburg High School to Catlettsburg Junior High School, requiring high school students to attend Boyd County High School at Cannonsburg. Also, one Catlettsburg Elementary school, Haney, was closed at that time.
Despite the initial displeasure of many Catlettsburg citizens regarding the merger and loss of Catlettsburg High School and Haney Elementary, the issue of merger now is seldom spoken of in disparaging terms. As the years have passed since 1974, Hatfield Elementary and Yost Elementary have also ceased to exist, leaving none of the Catlettsburg elementary schools, extant at the time of the merger, in operation. The most recent change in the schools of Catlettsburg was the conversion of Catlettsburg Junior High School to Catlettsburg Elementary in 1993, the elementary school now occupying the site formerly occupied by Catlettsburg High School and Catlettsburg Junior High School. This development, making it necessary for all students living in the city of Catlettsburg to attend school outside the city once they finished grade five, resulted in some consternation for several Catlettsburg residents. Now, however, it seems that most Catlettsburg citizens and students have accepted this development and the former Catlettsburg School system and the Boyd County Public Schools system are perceived by this writer to be united in spirit and effort to the greatest extent experienced since the merger in 1974. A prime example of this is the election of the present local board member for the division that includes the city of Catlettsburg without a candidate residing within the city running in opposition of the incumbent whose residence is outside the city.
KERA Arrives in 1990
One would be remiss not to cite the advent of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) as an all pervasive milestone in the history of Boyd County Public Schools. The district began implementing the non-graded primary to replace grades kindergarten through three with some trepidation but even more high expectations for the future. Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) councils were organized in all Boyd County Public Schools at an earlier date than in some other districts, and no school has ever chosen to disband an existing council. To this date, the curriculum documents and their delivery in the schools are largely test-driven. In Kentucky, we are to "test what we teach" and "teach what we test." The state assessment system has literally forced "selective abandonment" of much curriculum content in order to emphasize the Core Content for Assessment and Classroom Strategies that bode well for success on the state’s mandated assessment. From a historical perspective, perhaps no other factor has induced systemic change in the Boyd County Public Schools comparable to that of KERA.
~Dr. James Harper
Schools now within the Boyd County Public Schools district are:
Boyd County High School, Ramey Estep High School, Boyd County Career & Technical Center, Boyd County Central, Boyd County Middle School, Cannonsburg Elementary, Catlettsburg Elementary, Ponderosa Elementary, Summit Elementary, Early Childhood Learning Center—North, Early Childhood Learning Center—South and Catlettsburg Preschool housed at Catlettsburg Elementary.
The New Boyd County High School
On October 22, 2010, ground was broken for the new Boyd County High School. The architectural firm of Sherman-Carter-Barnhart designed the 145,471 square foot facility. When completed, the school will accommodate 1,000 students and have classrooms grouped in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) academies. Projected cost of the new high school is nearly 40 million. Projected completion date is December, 2012.
K-Prep Assessment and Unbridled Learning
In 2009, the Kentucky legislature passed Senate Bill 1 which called for more rigorous academic standards and a new state test based on those standards. The bill also called for a more balanced assessment and accountability system focused on our student’s readiness for life after high school - College and Career Readiness.
Two years later, the state adopted the Common Core Standards in English/language arts and mathematics. Known as the Kentucky Common Core Academic Standards, they are designed to be aligned with college coursework and 21st century skills required in the workplace. These standards were first taught in 2011-2012.
The new standards are in place for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and math, and Kentucky students were tested on them in the spring of 2012. New science standards have recently been released and the new social studies standards are expected soon. Until they are adopted, schools will continue to use the standards now in place for these subjects.
These new standards are tougher than what has been in place before and could prove to be challenging in the beginning. It is important that, as a community, we support the extra effort because the new standards are good for our kids’ future, will provide a more skilled workforce, and help the U.S. retain its strong position in the global economy.
As of March 2012, Kentucky is one of 45 states that have adopted the same standards. These standards are not federally mandated. They were developed by a group of educators and experts from Kentucky and 47 other states.
Consistent standards means that academic performance of our students can be compared to that of students in other states, and when students move from one state to another, they will have the same learning guidelines in both places.
If you would like more information about the new standards and how they will be assessed, please visit the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) website and click on the Unbridled Learning icon.