Six years ago this month, Scott County opened Elkhorn Crossing School — where some students spend a half day in college-prep classes — to relieve pressure on the overcrowded Scott County High School.
In the months and years that followed, citizens agitated for building a second high school, the board of education proposed millage increases to fund one, a name was chosen (Great Crossing) and an opening date (August, 2017) announced.
At the time of that 2014 announcement, then-Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday congratulated Scott County. “If you’ve visited those schools like I have, you know that they are probably a couple of years behind in getting this high school,” he said.
But there will not be a new high school opening in Scott County next year because construction has not begun.
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By Holliday’s estimate, Scott County is now lagging by four years and falling further behind every day. Scott County High, built to accommodate 1,900 students now has 2,400 crammed in, and hundreds of new students join the district each year.
So, what’s the problem? Why can’t this rapidly growing, prosperous (median family income $68,219 in 2010 census, higher than the country and all but four other Kentucky counties), relatively progressive county build a badly needed second high school?
Making it even harder to understand, Superintendent Kevin Hub said when he started work in July that a new high school was his first priority, that it would be best for students and a boost to the economy, but changed his mind in August.
Hub cited opposition to the tax increase necessary to build the $48 million school. The Scott County Board of Education had voted for a property tax increase in 2014 but backed off early last year after opponents forced a referendum on it.
But sports also figure in. Although there’s little public discussion of this factor, Meehan reports that some Scott County residents are unwilling to give up sports dominance fueled by the huge talent pool in one school.
It almost goes without saying that thousands of Scott County students should not be held hostage in an overcrowded school to satisfy the sports-victory lust of a few.
It’s also not fair to the majority of kids who aren’t superstars but would like to play a sport. As one parent told Meehan, the current environment rules out participation in popular high-school sports for all but elite athletes. A lot of students, he said, wind up playing in parks-and-recreation leagues instead of forging a connection to their school through athletics.
Whatever the reason, the Mad Moms and their allies, the Mad Dads, say they are determined to keep up the pressure to break the impasse.
The members of the board of education, and the community, should listen to them.