Nelson County School District serves nearly 5,000 children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in 12 schools on eight campuses scattered throughout the county. The school district is the largest of three systems in this county and encompasses nearly 423 square miles. The rapidly growing system opened a new high school for the 2012-2013 school year and has finished renovating and expanding one elementary school. A centralized preschool opened for the 2011-2012 school year.
The new Thomas Nelson High School was built on a 100-plus acre campus on the west side of KY 245 near Flaget Memorial Hospital. The new school’s namesake, Brigadier General Thomas Nelson Jr., was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and was elected to fill George Washington’s seat in the Second Continental Congress when Washington left to assume command of the Continental Army. In 1781, Nelson was elected to succeed Thomas Jefferson as governor of Virginia and held that office when Nelson County was formed in 1784. During the Revolutionary War, Nelson commanded the Virginia militia and was in charge of Virginia troops during the Battle of Yorktown, a decisive American victory and the last major battle of the war.
Other recent additions to the school system include a new central office facility and Horizons Academy, an alternative school. The academy, housed in a state-of-the-art facility adjacent to the new central office building, is designed to meet the needs of at-risk students having trouble succeeding in the regular school environment.
In addition to a tuition-based preschool program, the school system also offers services to 3-year-old students with disabilities and 4-year-old students who qualify for the federal free-lunch program or who have disabilities. All-day kindergarten is available to everyone, as well as before- and after-school child care programs.
Each of the district’s elementary schools offers a variation of Kentucky’s ungraded primary program and the district offers a range of programs through Grade 8. Both Nelson County High School and Thomas Nelson High School offer comprehensive programs. The district employs more than 300 support personnel and about 350 certified teachers and staff, a majority of whom hold a master’s degree or higher.
The Nelson County School District has made a major commitment to technology by placing computers in every elementary classroom and computer labs in every school. The district uses interactive whiteboard technology extensively, and each school is connected through a fiber-optic network to the Internet. Schools are wired for Wi-Fi, and several encourage students to bring their own devices to school for instructional uses. The district has moved to many cloud applications and is also experimenting with the use of Google Chromebooks.
A campus portal is an online tool available for parents and students to access instant, timely and secure student information, including class schedules, assignments, attendance, discipline, course registrations for the following school year, report cards and transcripts. The portal is a free service for parents and students to further promote educational excellence by enhancing the district’s extensive program of communication with parents and students.
The school district’s well-defined school-to-work program offers job exploration opportunities in the elementary and middle schools and on-the-job training in the high school. The high schools and the Nelson County Area Technology Center coordinate their programs and work closely to provide students with entry-level job skills or a strong background for college. Elementary and middle schools offer services to gifted students, who are identified using a multiple-intelligences philosophy.
The high schools offer an array of Advanced Placement courses. Programs for at-risk students include Reading Recovery, geared to 6-year-olds; Extended School Services, grade four and above tutoring; K-12 counseling; exceptional child education; Family Resource and Youth Services Centers; drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs, and the Horizons Academy alternative school. The district also sponsors an alternative classroom program, providing in-school suspension; in-school GED program; and a night high school program open to anyone who has left school without a diploma.
Since 1998, the Nelson County School System has operated on an alternative calendar. The school year is broken into four quarters separated by vacations. The district school board voted to move to this calendar following a study of national and state data indicating benefits to student learning.
Realizing the importance of a well-rounded individual, all district schools offer a range of co-curricular and athletic programs. A variety of clubs and academic competitions are available. Sports offerings include soccer, cross-country and track, football, basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball, golf, tennis, wrestling, and swimming.
All schools, in the district, serve breakfast and lunch. The district offers an optional online or telephone-based system that families can use to purchase and monitor students’ cafeteria meals.