LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. (LEX 18) — While many high school seniors are mulling their options for college next year, some students are hoping for a 'do-over' of their last year.
Gov. Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 128 into law last month. The legislation offers any student enrolled in a Kentucky public or private school in grades K-12 during the 2020-2021 school year to request to use the 2021-2022 school year as a supplemental school year to retake courses or supplement courses they have already taken.
"Academically, it would be a great opportunity to go back and catch up on some of the things that were missed through this virtual learning," Shawna Fitzpatrick, a parent of an Anderson County High School senior, said.
Her son, Isaiah, 17, has already submitted a request to take a supplemental school year next year.
Students have until May 1 to submit a request. School districts have until June 1 to decide whether to accept all of the requests or none of them. Districts have to submit an implementation plan to the Kentucky Board of Education by June 16.
Jason Glass, the state's education commissioner, told LEX 18 Monday that school districts can opt out of the program. He expects that some might choose to go that route, given potential concerns regarding staffing, graduation rates, and/or testing.
"It's not clear how they would pull together staffing or what sort of courses they'd be needing to put together for next year," he conceded. "Because the timeline is really tight."
The Fitzpatrick family hopes a supplemental school year program is adopted in Anderson County, so that Isaiah has an opportunity to make up ground in both academics and sports.
"His emotions have been all over the place for the last year," she said.
Isaiah runs track and plays football, both of which he hopes to pursue in college. His aspirations took a big hit when the pandemic forced the cancellation of last year's track season and the elimination of football summer camps.
"Junior and senior year are huge for recruiting purposes and if you don't have that, it can really affect their college futures," Fitzpatrick said. "So it was a big deal in our house."
Fitzpatrick acknowledged that the bill's primary purpose is about academics, which is a priority for her family.
"We have heard him say numerous times 'I just can't learn over the computer,'" she recalled. "We heard that over and over again."
Fitzpatrick said Isaiah is looking forward to the opportunity to learn consistently in a traditional setting.
"That's what some kids need," she said.