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Op-Ed: Deadline for Supplemental School Year Request Approaching

The following op-ed is written by Senator Max Wise (R-Campbellsville).

Last year, I submitted an op-ed expressing my earnest desire to give a “mulligan” to those students, particularly high school seniors, who had the final weeks of their 2020 school year upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, I never thought we would be continuing to claw our way back to a state of normalcy a year later. It was frustrating and heartbreaking to watch a year of in-person education lost to this situation. An outpouring of pleas from students and parents across Kentucky ultimately led to the filing of a bill I sponsored, and which was signed into law during the 2021 Session, Senate Bill 128.

SB 128 provides an enhancement opportunity for students whose educational experiences were affected by COVID over the past year. Every K-12 student, who is enrolled in a Kentucky public school, can participate in a temporary program during the 2021-22 school year to retake or supplement the courses or grades the student has already received in an effort to make whole their academic needs. This applies only to the 2021-22 school year, as we anticipate returning to regular academic instruction in the fall. Additionally, the bill provides that Kentucky High School Athletic Association shall allow a 2020-21 high school student a fifth consecutive year of eligibility at the same school, however participation age limits and transfer regulations are not waived.

SB 128 is not a mandate, but it provides a choice to those students who believe they could benefit from another year of education. Those students wishing to take advantage of this opportunity must submit a request to their local school districts by May 1, 2021. As we made sure this was a local control decision, the local school district will have to decide by June 1, 2021, as to whether or not it wants to allow this supplemental year in its district. It will have to accept all student requests or none at all. SB 128 gives local school districts great authority, latitude, and flexibility in crafting their plans to implement the legislation for the 2021-22 school year. It specifically allows a local school board to submit a plan for 2021-22 to the Kentucky Department of Education and request waivers from the Kentucky Board of Education regulations to the KDE by June 16, 2021.

This has been an incredibly difficult academic year for Kentuckians. If you think a supplemental year is the right decision for your student, I strongly encourage you to submit a request to your local school district as soon as possible, before the May 1 deadline.

Photo via Legislative Research Commission

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