Districts will now be able to finish out this school year using all of the provisions that have allowed them to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Andy Beshear signed House Bill 208
on Thursday, just hours after the legislation passed the General Assembly.
The new law allows districts the flexibility in food service, how attendance is recorded, SEEK funding and other measures that have made it easier for districts to serve students this school year.
HB 208 also requires districts to hold in-person classes 80 percent of the time (four days a week) for 40 percent of students (two days a week of in-person classes) by March 29. All 171 districts are scheduled to meet that requirement, in addition, 141 districts plan to provide four- or five-day-a-week instruction for all students by that date.
The law allows districts to use only five NTI days after March 29. If a district has to be out for sickness, floods or other reasons, the days will have to be made up at the end of the year.
Beshear said Thursday he signed the bill quickly because if he did not, “Kentucky schools would have lost the dollars they must have to provide for the education of our children.”
In addition to the provisions for this school year, the bill provides a path for transitioning back regular district operations. For the 2021-22 school year, districts will return to 10 NTI days, attendance will be calculated by average daily attendance instead of participation and SEEK funding will be based on attendance.
Some parents thought the bill should force districts to be in-person all five days with no hybrid schedules.
“To those people, I say you are absolutely right, get out and run for the school board,” said Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, as the bill passed the Senate. “If you want your kids in school five days a week and if you want local control, run for the school board, vote for the school board, figure your mechanisms out.”
Kenton County may not need the same solution as Pikeville Independent, he said.
“Different districts are different, and if you don’t like the way your children are being
educated, vote the school board out,” McDaniel said.
Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, said he supported the bill, but hoped that the legislature will not make a habit of taking local control away from school boards.
“The decisions for kids to be in school were not made by the governor, they were not made by the legislature, they were not made by the superintendent of Jefferson County public schools, they were made by seven individuals elected to serve their localities on the school board,” he said. “We talk about being closest to the people, there’s almost no branch closer to the people than the school board.”