Ky. To Retain Control of District; Local Board Ousted

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As a gesture of goodwill, Kentucky education officials left the Letcher County school board in place last year when they took over the eastern Kentucky district.

Now, though, their patience with the role of the local managers has run out. Earlier this month, Education Commissioner Thomas C. Boysen removed all five school board members and the board's lawyer amid growing criticism from local leaders of the work the state is doing.

The Letcher County board was dissolved within hours of the state school board's vote to extend for up to two years the takeover of the 4,400-student district. (See Education Week, 5/24/95.)

Local board members had opposed the extension, and observers said last week that their ouster has only heightened discontent in the district.

"We certainly recognize there are problems here, but what the state board and commissioner are doing is creating more problems than they are solving," said Jon Henrikson, a social-studies teacher at Letcher High School and the president of the local teachers' union.

Chronic Mismanagement

When the state took over the district last year, Mr. Boysen was granted full authority to run it. At the time, he advised local board members that they would be left in place as long as they served a useful role.

Apparently, that service ended when they refused to go along with the extended takeover.

The state cited the Letcher County district for chronic mismanagement and budget problems.

In moving for the extension, state officials said that, while progress has been made in the district, they had not yet brought about the kind of improvements that would lead to long-term management changes.

The board's demise means that a state official will replace the board's representative on the district's search committee for a superintendent.

--Lonnie Harp

Vol. 14, Issue 36

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