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FCPS weighing SB 128, resources other than repeating a grade could be solution

Posted at 6:36 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:37:22-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Fayette County Public Schools, and districts across the state, were handed an interesting choice to make when the state senate passed Senate Bill 128.

“We know the heart of the bill is about making amends, or attempting to make amends, to our families and our kids who’ve had a tough year. We all have,” said Steve Hill, the Fayette County Public School’s Director of Pupil Personnel.

Essentially, SB-128 will allow for a ‘do-over,” letting students repeat this year’s grade if they fell behind due to the pandemic and NTI learning from home. The registration process, which must be completed by May 1, is open and school board members will make their decision on the supplemental year by June 1.

“I know for a fact that, especially from talking with our counselors, we’ve had several folks inquire about it,” Hill said.

This piece of legislation is not a mandate that must be carried out by every school. Whether or not to allow a repeat of this school year will be made on a district by district basis.

“Each district is different,” Hill said. “Fayette County is different from a more rural setting. And Jefferson County is way more different. We all have different building capacities and resources, so I think it’s smart that way (how legislators framed the bill), because it allows communities to do what they can based on what resources they have,” Hill explained.

A decision to have a child do an entire year over will be made very carefully, and may not be based solely on academics. The 8th grader who can’t wait to get to high school with his or her friends might be impacted negatively by staying behind, which could offset any academic gains that could be derived by repeating the year.

“Those types of social and emotional issues mean a lot to kids at that grade level, so you need to look at the child’s stature, his grade level,” Hill said. “Studies also tell us the drop-out rate increases when you have people much older than their class. We don’t want to have, down the road, 20-year-old seniors,” Hill continued.

Hill also hinted at the district’s vast resources in supplemental reading and mathematics programs, which might offer enough support to help students who are considering a repeat of this year.

Athletics won’t be impacted, at least not right away for many. Student-athletes will be able to compete until they reach the age of 19, which means some could lose their senior year of competition depending on their date of birth.

“Right now it’s just a collection of data. How many students are there in each building where parents, or guardians have made this request. Then we’ll see what resources and ability we have to pull this off,” Hill stated.

They have until June 1 to determine all of that, and Mr. Hill believes the district’s decision could come before Memorial Day weekend.