High homeless numbers and a large population of economically disadvantaged students were just two of the issues facing Webster County Schools that was revealed by the annual Kentucky Department of Education School Report Card released statewide this morning.

Although the report is normally used to compare performance results in individual schools and districts to results from schools across the state, due to COVID-19, the 2021 report card proves to be far less informative thanks to a waiver granted to the KDE by U.S. Department of Education that removes school accountability requirements.

According to the report card, Webster County Schools saw district-wide enrollment drop from 2,156 in the 2017-28 school year to 2,099 last year. No explanation for the drop in enrollment is offered by the report, but school officials reported during last school year that a number of families had chosen to home school children rather than utilize the remote and virtual options offered early in the school year.

The largest group of students during the school year was the ninth grade, which had 196 students enrolled last year. Eighth graders made up 195 of the total student body with tenth grade reporting 186 students. The smallest grade level in the district was last year’s junior class, the current seniors, which had only 137 members.

Of the entire 2,318 students in the district, 1,177 are female while 1,141 are male.

White students continue to make up the majority of the student body at 1,765, with Hispanic students being the second largest group at 394. Only 59 students in the district were classified as African American, an increase of eight students since the 2018-19 school year.

Approximately 63% of the student body, or 1,479 students, are considered economically disadvantaged, with 488 officially being listed as homeless.

That represents an additional 89 economical disadvantaged students and 81 additional homeless students since the last report card released for the 2018-19 school year.

“We have a great staff of three Family Resource providers that focus on the economically disadvantaged,” said superintendent Rhonda Callaway. “They don’t just work with students but also our families. Due to the number homeless students, we hired Diane Oakley as our Homeless Coordinator a couple of years ago. Assistant Superintendent, Greg Bowles oversees Family Resource and Homeless so this group has a strong collaborative approach to meet the needs of these student populations.”

Sebree Elementary is home to the largest population of financially disadvantaged and homeless students. According to the report card, 75.9% of the student body is listed as financially disadvantaged, and 157 of the 361 students enrolled there are listed as homeless.

Providence was second, with 70.6% of the population listed as disadvantaged and 46 students homeless.

Dixon Elementary, with an enrollment of 327 students, reported the best data in the district, with a disadvantaged population of 48% and 37 students listed as homeless.

In ACT testing, Webster County students average a composite score of 16.9, over a point lower than the statewide average of 18.

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069

Contact Matt Hughes at matt@journalenterprise.com or 270-667-2069