By Kentucky Teacher, A publication of KDE (view Article)

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released a new guidance document on April 5 that details how the Supplemental School Year Program impacts public education in the Commonwealth.

The program, which was created March 24 when Gov. Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 128 into law, allows any K-12 student enrolled during the 2020-2021 school year to request to use the 2021-2022 school year as a supplemental year to retake or supplement courses the student already has taken.

Students have until May 1 to submit a request to their local board of education. The local board then has until June 1 to decide whether to accept all the submitted requests or no requests. The local board must submit its implementation plan, along with any requests for regulatory waivers, to the Kentucky Board of Education by June 16.

The guidance document, “Senate Bill 128: Supplemental School Year Program,” outlines the impact the legislation has on assessment and accountability, funding, teaching and learning, special populations, school-based decision making councils, alternative programs and federal program eligibility.

“Not only did the COVID-19 pandemic affect education in ways we have never seen before, but it also altered the education landscape going forward,” said Education Commissioner Jason E. Glass. “This bill is an example of that. We want to ensure our districts have all the necessary resources to provide students, families and school officials with relevant information as they make these significant decisions.”

From the guidance document, Senate Bill 128: Supplemental School Year Program:

Timeline and Process (page 2)
Students have until May 1 to submit a request to their local board of education; the local board
has until June 1
to decide whether to accept all requests or no requests. These student requests –
and the district’s all-or-none decision -– apply only to students enrolled in the district on May 1,2021. A district may provide access to the Supplemental School Year Program for students who
transfer into the district after that date, but is under no obligation to do so, and may otherwise
treat these students as required by general operating conditions……….

Special Education (page 7)
Currently, Kentucky provides state funding for students with disabilities up to the age of 21.
However, students with disabilities may stay enrolled through age 21 at the discretion of the
local district. Local districts make this decision based on the needs of the individual student.
Historically, a very small number of students remain in school through age 21, as local districts
work to ensure students meet learning targets. The Supplemental School Year Program will
allow for an additional year for all students, including those past 21.
This same flexibility
remains under SB 128.

However, once a student turns 22, the district cannot use IDEA funds to pay for educational
services since free appropriation public education (FAPE) is not required. The district may use
ESSER funds to continue services to students age 22 and beyond.

Compensatory education requires a local district to provide a student with appropriate
educational services to compensate for the failure, or inability, to provide the student with a
FAPE. The purpose of compensatory education is to place the student in the position the student
would have been in if appropriate services had been provided. Students with disabilities are
general education students first and are entitled to these same opportunities. Students with
disabilities also are entitled to the additional services described in their individual education
programs (IEPs). It would be inappropriate to use a recovery program offered to all students to
fulfill the duty to provide compensatory education. Retaking a year is completely voluntary and
cannot be a substitute for the provision of compensatory education.