LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Less than 2% of students requested a "do-over" year to repeat their current grade level in Fayette County Public Schools for the 2021-2022 calendar.
Senate Bill 128 allows for any K-12 student enrolled in a Kentucky public or private school to request to use the 2021-22 school year as a supplemental school year to "retake or supplement the courses or grades." It was introduced and passed as a response to the changes in learning due to the pandemic.
Thousands of students across Kentucky struggled and many of them requested the "do-over." Shelia Lucero says the past year of virtual learning has been a nightmare.
"My son is 19. He would have has two years left counting this year in high school. He has Down syndrome. He's nonverbal and has a very, very short attention span," explained Lucero.
Her plan was to work on transiting him to the real world with supervised job training and adult daycare. The pandemic put that on hold, which is why she requested a redo.
Looking at the numbers, 523 students requested a redo in Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS). The breakdown is 167 at the elementary level, 114 at the middle school level, and 242 at the high school level.
While it may seem like a lot, those numbers account for about 1.25% of the district's total student population.
"We didn't really know what to expect. Our community has never lived through a pandemic before. We've never had virtual learning to the scale that we had before and we certainly had never given families this type of an option," said Lisa Deffendall, Spokesperson for FCPS.
Early on, the Kentucky Department of Education estimated that school districts would see less than 2% of families take this option.
But considering how few may be affected leaves families like Lucero's wondering what it could mean for them.
"I'm hoping Fayette County will look at all the kid's needs. Because I can guarantee you almost any special need parent feels like their kids need a redo," said Lucero.
The group Let Them Learn has been criticizing virtual learning and pushing for this redo year since the beginning. For spokesperson Greg Prince, what this means is that their voices were heard.
"We don't want to leave anybody behind. That was our kind of worry from the beginning of this was his children getting left behind. And we had a lot of neighboring states, that basically never closed their schools. Now, our kids are going to have to compete against those kids to get into college," said Prince.
For taxpayers, it doesn't really change anything.
Most are students who were already going to attend school except for the seniors choosing to return for another year.
"These are our kids, so the students who have requested for the additional year are already factored into our staffing formula. There was a chance for seniors to come back and repeat a year, but there were very few of those requests," said Deffendall.
The next step is the school board for final approval. Even though it's state law, it's a local decision and they have until June 1 to decide to accept either all requests or none.
SB 128 WILL negatively impact graduation rate for schools where students remain in high school for the supplemental year.
Some requested a do over for athletic reasons.