As families flee coal country, schools get shuttered, and communities lose their hubs

IndustriesAssociated Press

Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia public school districts are grappling with declining enrollments as the area loses population amid the declining coal industry.

Eastern Kentucky's public school districts have lost more than 12,000 students since the 1999-2000 school year, which state officials say is the result of the region's economic troubles amid a declining coal industry. West Virginia has lost 26 percent of its public school student population since 1979.

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Pike County Schools has lost more than 1,000 students since 2001, the most of any school district in Kentucky. The district has combined and closed some schools to deal with declining enrollments.

Two independent groups are studying Kentucky's 25-year-old school funding formula. Lawmakers are waiting on the results of those studies before deciding whether to make changes.

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Raby reported from Charleston, West Virginia.

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