The Richmond Register


September 18, 2012

Madison County schools ranked 49th, Berea 60th in efficiency

Of 169 Kentucky school districts

RICHMOND — A conservative Kentucky think tank on Monday ranked Madison County 49th and Berea Independent 60th in spending efficiency among the state’s 169 school districts.

The rankings, by the Bluegrass Institute, are based on the ratio of school-district ACT test scores and per-pupil spending.

The study is titled “Bang for the Buck 2012: How efficient are Kentucky’s schools?” and also notes the percentage of students who receive free or reduced-price school meals.

According to the study, Madison County spent $10,044 per pupil in 2011 and had an average ACT score of 19. The district’s average daily attendance was 9,920, with 49 percent of its students eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals.

The average ACT score in the Berea district, 20.1, was slightly higher than the county’s, but it spent $10,942 per pupil.

Berea’s average daily attendance last year was 972, less than a tenth of the county’s size.

A higher  percentage of Berea students, 60 percent, qualified for free or reduced-priced meals.

Free and reduced-priced meals go to students from families whose income is below federal guidelines.

Of the counties surrounding Madison, only Clark County at 27th outranked both Madison County and Berea. Clark County spent $9,281 per pupil and had an average ACT score of 18.9, slightly below their neighbors.

Jessamine County, at 51st, came in ahead of Berea. It spent $9,638 per pupil with an average ACT score of 19.4.

Other districts, their rankings, per-pupil spending and average ACT scores include:

• Fayette, 72nd, $12,032, 20.1

• Rockcastle, 89th, $9,292, 18.2

• Estill, 94th, 9,541, 18.2

• Jackson, 147th, $11,572, 17.6

• Garrard, 155th, $12,608, 17.9

The results prove the answer to providing a quality education is not just more tax dollars, but in making better use of available resources, said Richard G. Innes, who authored the report.

“It adds more evidence that poverty is no excuse for failing to adequately prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century marketplace.”

Some of the top-ranking districts had above-average test scores and below-average family income while spending less per pupil than some districts that ranked far below them.

For example, the Harlan Independent School District was ranked second in efficiency. Its average ACT score was 20.9 while its spent $8,639 per student, 53 percent of whom qualified for free or reduced-priced school meals.

Barbourville Independent, ranked fourth-most efficient district, got above-average test scores, 19.1, with well below average funding, $8,238, despite a school-lunch rate, 60 percent, that is higher than the statewide average,  Innes noted.

“Student poverty clearly does not stand in the way of efficiency in Harlan and Barbourville,” he  said. “They show what can be done.”

The study listed four “Diamond in the Rough” school districts that “give taxpayers above-average bang for their education bucks despite above-average poverty rates.”

Those districts, Graves County, Eminence Independent (Henry County), LaRue County and Mason County, each posted efficiency scores for 2011 at least 10 percent better than the state average although their student lunch eligibility rates equal or exceed the state average. They also surpassed the average ACT score for all districts by at least half a point and posted better-than-average high school graduation rates in 2010 as well.

“We hope that all Kentucky superintendents will learn from the excellent model of efficiency provided by these districts,” said Jim Waters, interim president of the Bluegrass Institute. “With the state’s current economic challenges, it behooves our school districts’ leaders to apply these best practices and become more efficient in all aspects of their operations.”

Waters' opinion column often appears on Mondays on the Richmond Register's opinion page.

The complete report can be found online at

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 624-6690.

Text Only
  • 4-16 CMMShealthfair5.jpg Health fairs cover contemporary teenage topics

    Berea Community High School health students coordinated their first all-day health fair in November that was catered to elementary students.

    But their spring fair Monday handled more mature issues that targeted the middle and high school crowd, said health teacher Cathy Jones.

    April 16, 2014 13 Photos

  • Regents approve smoke-free campus policy

    The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents on Monday approved a tobacco-free campus policy and set 2014-15 rates for tuition, housing and meal plans.

    Effective June 1, the use of tobacco on all property that is owned, leased, occupied or controlled by the university will be prohibited.

    April 14, 2014

  • 4-10 EKUDanceTheatre1.jpg EKU Dance Theatre tonight

    Performances are 8 p.m. tonight, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday in O’Donnell Hall of the Whitlock Building.
    Tickets are available at the Whitlock Building ticket window or by calling 622-2171 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.
    Tickets are $5 for students, $10 general admission and free for children under the age of 12. Tickets also may be purchased at the door.
    This semester’s concert offers a variety of dance forms including modern/contemporary, hip hop, Middle Eastern, musical theater and Latin jazz.

    April 10, 2014 7 Photos

  • 4-11 ChildAbusePrevPinwheels.jpg Pinwheels for prevention

    Madison Central High School CIA, or Central in Action club, placed 473 silver and blue pinwheels in the flower beds in front of the school, each representing a substantiated child abuse case reported in Madison County in 2013 to show support for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-10 TibetanMonks1.jpg Tibetan monks provide week of cultural experiences

    Berea College has had a special relationship with the Tibetan government-in-exile dating back to the 1990s. That is when the late John Stephenson, then Berea’s president, befriended the Dalai Lama, the Buddhist spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, according to Jeff Richey, chair of Asian Studies at the college.

    April 10, 2014 13 Photos

  • 4-10 RedCedar4.jpg Open for learning

    While some may not have known all of the words or the exact notes to sing, parents and children in the Red Cedar Learning Cooperative enjoyed an afternoon jam session together Tuesday, complete with guitars, a ukulele, drums and a harmonica.

    April 9, 2014 13 Photos

  • 4-4 MightyCasey1a.jpg ‘The Mighty Casey’

    Show times for the 19th-century poem turned opera, “The Mighty Casey,” are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday in the Black Box Theatre of the EKU Center for the Arts.
    It is presented by the Eastern Kentucky University music department’s Opera Workshop and the EKU Opera Guild, a student organization.
    Opera-goers will have seats right behind the pitcher’s mound as the story of the Mudville Nine and its star player, “the Mighty Casey,” unfolds.
    While living in a “sad little run-down town,” Mudville townspeople rally around their baseball hero to lift their spirits, said director and music professor Joyce Wolf.

    April 4, 2014 8 Photos

  • Science building ground breaking planned for summer

    A $66.3 million appropriation in the new state budget will fully fund completion of Eastern Kentucky University’s New Science Building, according to EKU President Michael Benson.
    A summer ground breaking ceremony is planned for the project, he said.
    Although the building’s $64 million first phase began use in January 2012, completion has awaited funding until now.

    April 1, 2014

  • 4-1 EKUDanceTheatre3.jpg Eastern Kentucky University Dance Theatre - Spring concert set April 9-12

    The Eastern Kentucky University Dance Theatre will present its spring concert Wednesday, April 9, though Saturday, April 12, in O’Donnell Hall of the Whitlock Building
    Performances will be 8 p.m. April 9-12 with an additional 2 p.m. Saturday show.

    April 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Scholarship available to those providing early childhood education

    Kentucky’s child care providers and those who train child care providers may be eligible for the Early Childhood Development Scholarship to further their college education.

    March 31, 2014