Discussions begin on merging eastern Ky. schools

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Associated Press

Posted on January 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM

MONTICELLO, Ky. (AP) — A financially troubled independent school system in eastern Kentucky may be on the verge of merging with a larger system after asking state officials for help.

John Hurt, who is interim superintendent of the Monticello Independent School District, told Lexington Herald-Leader (http://bit.ly/UKnHuP) that discussions have begun that could lead to a merger.

Wayne County schools' Superintendent John Dalton told the newspaper that his understanding is that the Monticello district would close at the end of the current school year.

The comments came after Hurt and Dalton met with state Department of Education officials on Wednesday to discuss the finances of the independent district, which has 850 students.

Monticello school board chairman Jerry Lair said the board voted in December to ask for state management — not a merger — after the district's finances declined to a point where it wouldn't have been able to make payroll in March without help.

"The Monticello board does not want to do that, but we have no choice," he said, noting that the state Department of Education favors a merger and that is likely what will happen.

A recent state audit of the district found that it did not have adequate financial controls, and bank statements hadn't been reconciled in more than two years.

Dalton and Hurt said their primary goal is to find the best way to serve students. The county school system has 2,700 students.

"We're all looking at what's best for the children of the county," Hurt said.

The state board is expected to discuss the issue at its February meeting.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

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