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History of BCPS

A History of

To accomplish the assignment of the writing of the history of the Boyd County Public Schools system with brevity, this writer has elected to mention in passing some selected significant milestones in that history, while addressing in more depth some of the most pivotal milestones.

Boyd County Public Schools originated as a conglomerate of one– and two-room graded schools.  A hallmark event occurred in 1929 when Boyd County High School graduated its first class.  Prior to that time, those young people who wished to go beyond the eighth grade generally enrolled in either Catlettsburg High School or Ashland High School in nearby cities.  Boyd County High School enrolled its first students in the 1920s using Cannonsburg Methodist Church as temporary quarters until a high school facility was built.

At the inception of the Boyd County Public Schools system, the entire Boyd County Public Schools district was rural and, in fact, very sparsely populated.  Gradually the one– and two-room schools, having such colorful names as Slippery Rock, Long Branch and Arat, were consolidated into such larger schools as Summit Elementary, Cannonsburg Elementary and England Hill Elementary.  But, eventually, Summit became so large (over 900 students) that part of its students was sent to a newly-constructed Ironville Elementary.  England Hill eventually disappeared, as its students were divided between the newly constructed Eidson Elementary and Cooper Elementary schools.

When the writer became an administrator in Boyd County Public Schools for the 1966-67 school term, the District was comprised of these schools:  Cannonsburg Elementary—grades 1-8; Summit Elementary—grades 1-8; Ironville Elementary—grades 1-8; Cooper Elementary—grades 1-8; Eidson Elementary—grades 1-8; Durbin Elementary—grades 1-6; Garner Elementary—grades 1-6; Boyd County High School—grades 9-12.

The first junior high school (grades 7-9) in the district opened for the 1974-75 school year in the former Catlettsburg High School facility that had become part of the Boyd County Public Schools system in 1974.  For the 1976-77 school year a second junior high school, Summit Junior High School, was opened in a new facility to include grades 7-9 in the western portion of the county.  Beginning with the 1993-94 school year, the configuration of Boyd County Public Schools was changed to include grades 9-12, rather than grades 10-12 at Boyd County High School and the former Summit Junior High School facility became the home of grades 6-8 in the facility known today as Boyd County Middle School.

From its beginnings as a very sparsely populated rural area in the ‘20s, the Boyd County Public Schools district has entered the new millennium as a district largely rural South of I-64 and largely suburban north of I-64.  The population residing within the boundaries of the district now represents almost fifty percent of the total population of Boyd County.  At its inception, the population residing within the Boyd County Public Schools district was only a minuscule portion of the population of the entire county, as the city of Ashland was home to most of Boyd County’s populace.  

The milestone events in the history of Boyd County Public Schools system for which this writer has chosen to provide a more lengthy analysis are:
•    Merger of the Catlettsburg Independent School system with the Boyd County Public Schools system in 1974.
•    KERA (Kentucky Education Reform Act) arrives in 1990. 

Catlettsburg Merges
The merger of the Catlettsburg Independent School System with the Boyd County School System became effective on July 1, 1974.  While the Catlettsburg Schools had come upon hard times due to such factors as declining enrollment, decaying buildings and financial problems that made merger a very rational decision on the part of the Catlettsburg Board of Education, the decision was very unpopular with some of the citizenry.  Especially unpopular was the conversion of  Catlettsburg High School to Catlettsburg Junior High School, requiring high school students to attend Boyd County High School at Cannonsburg.  Also, one Catlettsburg Elementary school, Haney, was closed at that time.

Despite the initial displeasure of many Catlettsburg citizens regarding the merger and loss of Catlettsburg High School and Haney Elementary, the issue of merger now is seldom spoken of in disparaging terms. As the years have passed since 1974, Hatfield Elementary and Yost Elementary have also ceased to exist, leaving none of the Catlettsburg elementary schools, extant at the time of the merger, in operation.  The most recent change in the schools of Catlettsburg was the conversion of Catlettsburg Junior High School to Catlettsburg Elementary in 1993, the elementary school now occupying the site formerly occupied by Catlettsburg High School and Catlettsburg Junior High School.  This development, making it necessary for all students living in the city of Catlettsburg to attend school outside the city once they finished grade five, resulted in some consternation for several Catlettsburg residents.  Now, however, it seems that most Catlettsburg citizens and students have accepted this development, and the former Catlettsburg School system and the Boyd County Public Schools system are perceived by this writer to be united in spirit and effort to the greatest extent experienced since the merger in 1974.  A prime example of this is the election of the present local board member for the division that includes the city of Catlettsburg without a candidate residing within the city running in opposition of the incumbent whose residence is outside the city.  

KERA Arrives in 1990
One would be remiss not to cite the advent of the Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) as an all-pervasive milestone in the history of Boyd County Public Schools.  The district began implementing the non-graded primary to replace grades kindergarten through three with some trepidation but even more high expectations for the future.  Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) councils were organized in all Boyd County Public Schools at an earlier date than in some other districts, and no school has ever chosen to disband an existing council.  To this date, the curriculum documents and their delivery in the schools are largely test-driven.  In Kentucky, we are to “test what we teach” and “teach what we test.”  The state assessment system has literally forced “selective abandonment” of much curriculum content in order to emphasize the Core Content for Assessment and Classroom Strategies that bode well for success on the state’s mandated assessment.  From a historical perspective, perhaps no other factor has induced systemic change in the Boyd County Public Schools comparable to that of KERA.

The above History of Boyd County Public Schools was written by:  Dr. James Harper (1939 - 2012) District Administrator. Written in February 2000. Dr. Harper was a lifelong resident of Boyd County and was employed in the Boyd County Public School System for 46 years.

The schools now within the Boyd County Public Schools district are:  Boyd County High School, Ramey Estep High School, Boyd County Career & Technical Center, Boyd County Middle School,  Cannonsburg Elementary, Catlettsburg Elementary, Ponderosa Elementary, Summit Elementary, Boyd County Early Childhood Academy.

The New Boyd County High School
On October 22, 2010, ground was broken for the new Boyd County High School. The architectural firm of Sherman-Carter-Barnhart designed the 145,471 square-foot facility at a cost of 40 million. The school accommodates 1,000 students with classrooms grouped in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) academies. The building was dedicated on December 13, 2012, with students arriving in January 2013. In 2014, the facility earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR certification, which signifies that the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the EPA.

Boyd County Middle School Facility Improvements
The architectural firm of Sherman-Carter-Barnhart was again selected to design the updates and additions to the Boyd County Middle School during the 2015-2016 school year. During renovations, students moved to the old Boyd County High. Additions included a new entrance facade, new windows, elevator access to the top level of the gymnasium, and a bus loading/unloading area designed to improve traffic flow during peak pick-up and drop-off times. The middle school reopened on February 21, 2018.