News From Frankfort

j.c.p.s. policy watch: news from Frankfort

By Abby Piper

JPCS Policy Watch
April 13, 2021

Kentucky’s 2021 General Assembly (Legislative Session) Ends

Legislative outcomes are sealed, at least until next January. The last day for Governor Beshear to veto or sign a bill was last Saturday (April 10) at midnight. As with any legislative session, there are both positive and negative outcomes for public education. I have composed a lengthier-than-usual brief below of new laws organized by the Jefferson County Board of Education’s approved legislative priorities. This will allow you to see where we are making impact, and where we have opportunities to become better advocates. You can expect to see more posts here as we work through the interim, but with less frequency. As a reminder, you can view the board’s approved legislative priorities here, but I have included excerpts below for each applicable section.

What Happens Next

 April through June is a legislative rest period of sorts, which allows government entities, including JCPS, to evaluate any necessary changes to local board policies and practices as a result of the legislative session. This is also a period when administrative regulations amendments, which are regulatory documents issued by the state, are made to reflect changes to current law. July will bring the advent of the legislative interim, which means legislative committees meet jointly (think Interim Joint Committee on Education, comprised of a handful of House and Senate members). Interim meetings are an opportunity to introduce new ideas or legislative issues to lawmakers outside of their legislative activity time, when thorough research and conversations can be had over a course of several months. The legislative interim will end in December, and then the General Assembly will convene for another legislative session in January 2022.

In Brief: Summary of Relevant New State Laws

As a reminder of the priorities approved by the Jefferson County Board of Education before the legislative session began, I have included excerpts from that document in italics as it applies to what has passed the legislature and will now become law. All of these bills will go into effect June 29, 2021 unless otherwise noted. Bills with emergency clauses are effective the date they are signed by the governor or become law by being enrolled at the Secretary of State.

Click here to go directly to section headings:

Reducing Board Member Burden
Looking Ahead


JCPS Advocated For:

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) supports legislation to adequately fund the public education system as required by Rose v. Council for Better Education (1989). Hold all education funding harmless in the 2021 budget.

Provide additional stimulus support for districts due to COVID-19 to alleviate local losses in occupational and property tax revenue and federal reimbursements in 2020.

Acknowledging that the impact of COVID-19 on funding and student achievement will be felt for many years to come, establish long-term funding for focused intervention for students.

Establish in statute a consistent rate increase for Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) over time to allow districts to better plan for capital costs, teacher salary increases, staffing patterns, and program investment.

Provide increased flexibility for local districts to generate revenue, including the addition of a single non-recallable nickel.

Kentucky Legislature Passed:

HB192 (Budget). State K-12 education funding was not increased this year and has not increased for several years. This serves as a double detriment to JCPS and to the approximately 50 other school districts who receive less in state funding because of their local property values. First, it means that when the rate of inflation increases, stagnant funding is really a funding cut. Secondly, those school districts that receive less in state funding due to property taxes actually sustain a second cut, because as property values rise, the state gives these districts fewer dollars. For example, the fall 2019 property assessments in Jefferson County showed an increase of 6.6%; the direct result of that property value increase resulted in a $10.6 million decrease in state dollars to Jefferson County Public Schools, and local taxpayers have to make up the difference. We will discuss this topic in more depth during the summer and fall interim.

On a positive note, the legislature did fund full-day Kindergarten by sending the roughly $140 million in promised American Rescue Plan Act funds through the SEEK formula. JCPS expects to see an additional $13.7 million added to the SEEK Base amount to help cover the cost of providing full-day kindergarten. However, JCPS will still have to provide millions in local taxpayer funds to make up the difference between what the state funds through the SEEK formula for all students and what local taxpayers have to contribute to make the program whole.

In other areas, transportation funds are held flat and have only been funded at about 39.61 cents on the dollar for several years anyway. No funds were allocated for textbooks and instructional materials, teacher professional development funds, or teacher recruitment and retention programs. But, the roughly $7.2 million to be distributed statewide for mental health services providers for schools remains, which is a critical pool of funds to help districts across Kentucky address mental health needs for students. Want to see more of the budget? See the full breakdown, courtesy of the Kentucky School Boards Association.

HB208. This emergency COVID-19 relief bill kept school districts operating legally  during extended NTI learning this year. Those flexibilities included things like allowing staff to have more than the statutorily allowed 3 days for emergencies related to COVID; allowing students and staff to work remotely to avoid spread of the deadly disease to themselves and their families; and allowing district notices normally delivered via paper to be delivered electronically.

NOTE: THIS BILL EXPIRES WITH THE CURRENT SCHOOL YEAR. All district operations are expected to return to full-time, five days per week instruction for the 2021-22 school year. As part of that, districts who wish to participate in the statutory limit of 10 days of allowable NTI per year due to illness or inclement weather must submit a plan to KDE by May 1 of this year. The bill has an emergency clause, so it went into effect March 4 of this year.

Why it matters to JCPS: Without this bill, all Kentucky school districts would have not been able to comply with a slew of laws during full-time NTI or as they phase back to in-person learning, which would have put critical funding in jeopardy. Thankfully, that was avoided. Districts are required to return to full-time, five days per week of instruction for all students by the FY22 school year.

HB133. Citizens wishing to place a school board tax levy on the ballot for recall will have to gain enough signatures to constitute 10% of voters who voted in the previous presidential election until that number reaches 5,000 signatures. At that point, all recall petitions, regardless of the number of votes in the previous presidential election, will be placed on the ballot upon collection of 5,000 verified signatures.

Why it matters to JCPS: Tax levies benefitting students and schools in populous areas will be more difficult to achieve. Since the bill penalizes urban areas, this could mean fewer local dollars serving the state’s highest concentrations of at-risk students.

HB320. The FCC will be in charge of overseeing $250 million in federal funds (capped at $50 million between now and April 1, 2022) for last-mile broadband infrastructure for individual households. A last-minute committee substitute to HB382 will add another $50 million from the state’s anticipated allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act for deployment in unserved and underserved areas for companies as part of economic development projects.

Why it matters to JCPS: If the pandemic highlighted anything for Jefferson County families, it was the lack of access to universal, affordable, quality broadband. While the majority of funds will go to rural areas, there may be some opportunity for increased capacity in some areas of Jefferson County, including West Louisville. “Unserved” and “underserved” areas are defined by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) per census block.

HB556. Allocates $127 million in state ARPA funds in FY21-22 to the School Facilities and Construction Commission (SFCC) to support school facility construction costs, essentially doubling the size of available school construction funds in Kentucky.. It also includes an additional $75 million from the General Fund to the School Facilities Construction Commission for local area vocational education centers (LAVECs). Each LAVEC could apply for up to $10 million, which must be matched by local dollars. LAVECs must offer substance use disorder programs and job creation training to be eligible.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS has over $1 billion in facility needs, and while JCPS will have to compete with 170 other Kentucky school districts for these funds, this could help address lags in school construction and improvements. In addition, statewide funds for LAVECs could help support the growing work of the JCPS Academies of Louisville, since ten of the district’s Academies high schools are considered LAVECs.

JCPS Advocated Against:

JCPS opposes scholarship tax credits, tax credits for corporations, and individuals donating money to pay for private school scholarships. JCPS also opposes funding for charter schools, including funding that would divert SEEK Average Daily Attendance dollars or local levied taxes from local school districts to charter schools. JCPS supports programs and funding to promote recruitment and retention of highly effective public school teachers, including minority teachers. This includes, but is not limited to, reinstatement of the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP), Professional Development Program, Teacher Recruitment and Retention Program, Leadership and Mentor Fund, Teacher Academies Program, and Teacher Scholarship Program.

Kentucky Legislature Passed:

HB563. This measure passed the House, twice, by a single vote. Barring any challenge in court and a possible injunction, private school students could now get free tuition from this state-sponsored program costing $125 million over the next five years. Private school students/families could also apply for funds in this program to pay for educational experiences. The bill represents a clear siphoning of public school resources for the benefit of private schools.

Further, the bill will allow any student in any district to choose to attend school in another district as early as the 2022-23 school year. That is, Jefferson County taxpayers could be paying for students from surrounding counties to go to our schools, and their families would not pay taxes to support JCPS or be able to vote in our local school board elections.

Services that both public and private school students in Jefferson County could apply for include:

  • Tuition or fees, including for online learning programs
  • Tutoring services
  • Textbooks, curriculum, or other instructional materials (Note: JCPS is not allowed to charge for textbooks, and the legislature did not fund the nearly $17 million line item that would have provided textbooks for public school students).
  • Computer hardware or other technological devices
  • Educational software and applications
  • School uniforms
  • Fees for nationally standardized assessments, advanced placement examinations, examinations related to college or university admission, and tuition or fees for preparatory courses (Note: JCPS is required to provide free ACT testing during the Junior year as part of the state accountability system; private schools are not held to state accountability standards)
  • Tuition or fees for summer education programs and specialized after-school education programs, excluding after-school childcare
  • Tuition, fees, instructional materials, and examination fees at a career or technical school
  • Educational services and therapies, including but not limited to occupational, behavioral, physical, speech-language, and audiology therapies provided by a licensed professional (Note: public schools already provide these services but cannot charge for them).
  • Tuition and fees at an institution of higher education for dual credit courses
  • Fees for transportation paid to a fee-for-service transportation provider for the student to travel to and from an education service provider. (Note: JCPS cannot charge students for transportation, and the state has not funded this program fully for a number of years).

Why it matters to JCPS: The legislature has sent a message to Kentuckians that they are willing to lose $125 million in state General Fund money to pay for private school tuition and other resources for private school students that they have not funded for public school students. The bill also puts families at risk of predatory practices from vendors of educational wares and allows those vendors and private schools to discriminate against students and families based on their race, color, religion, sex (includes gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), citizenship status, age, disability, or other reasons. Finally, it requires Jefferson County taxpayers to pay for students to attend JCPS that don’t live in Jefferson County and whose families don’t pay Jefferson County taxes.  

HB3. Constitutional challenges can now be held outside of Franklin Circuit Court. This represents a significant departure from current and former practices and puts Kentuckians’ most critical court challenges outside of the seat of government and in districts that may be more favorable to different outcomes. All judicial seats in Kentucky are elected positions.

Why it matters to JCPS: As we watch what happens with potential challenges to the private school resourcing bill (HB563), this could come into play.


JCPS Advocated For:

JCPS supports full funding of actuarially required contributions (ARC, ADEC, ADC) for Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) Kentucky and County Employees Retirement System (CERS) participants as well as full funding for retiree health insurance. In recognition that local entities have paid their contributions consistently over time, enact rate ceilings for employee and employer pension and health contributions determined by the TRS Kentucky and Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS) boards.

Kentucky Legislature Passed:

As part of the budget (see HB192 above), the legislature fully funded its fixed statutory TRS Medical Insurance Fund (MIF) payment of 0.75% of payroll.  The state chose not to fund its “Shared Responsibility” contribution toward health care costs for TRS (teacher) retirees that are younger than 65 years of age.  However, with the state’s 0.75% MIF contribution, monthly health insurance premium payments made by retirees, the 3.75% MIF contribution made by active teachers, and the 3.00% MIF contribution made by school districts, the full actuarially required contribution for the TRS Medical Insurance Fund was made.

HB9. This bill serves as part II of the CERS separation that was enacted last year. The bill creates further clarifications about how the CERS board will be able to operate independently of the larger Kentucky Retirement Systems infrastructure.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS employs approximately 5,600 classified staff members who are members of the County Employees Retirement System (CERS). The bill will give CERS members more control over their investments.  

HB87. This bill allows widows and widowers to keep their spouse’s TRS benefit, even if they remarry. The bill is retroactive to June 25, 2009.

Why it matters to JCPS: Our employees work hard throughout their careers, and their families deserve to recoup the retirement benefits they paid out of each paycheck. Since teachers are not eligible for Social Security benefits, this support replaces what would normally accrue in federal social security survivors benefits for individuals who have experienced the loss of their spouse. 

HB258. Employees hired after January 1, 2022 will be required to participate in a new retirement tier that will provide them a benefit that combines part of the current defined benefit program and incorporates a 401(K)-style hybrid cash balance plan managed by TRS. New hires will also have to work until the age of 57 and will not have the option of calculating the highest three years of salary (instead of five years) for years of service completed. The prohibition on participation in Social Security remains for all employees. NO changes to current employees’ retirements are made in this bill. Breakdown of full measures courtesy of JCTA here.

Why it matters to JCPS: The bill may impact recruitment of new teachers already in our teacher pipeline programs as well as recruiting new members to the program and will have an impact on future employee communications through HR.


JCPS Advocated For:

JCPS supports legislation to ensure that the membership of a district’s Superintendent Screening Committee generally reflects the racial and ethnic composition of the student population the district serves and includes at least one student representative on the committee.

JCPS supports legislation that would work toward increasing a culturally relevant curriculum in schools, with emphasis on expanding curricula beyond Eurocentric perspectives. JCPS also supports legislation that would provide for quality implicit bias training for staff.

JCPS supports keeping the responsibility for student assignment to schools with local school boards and strongly opposes legislation that reduces or eliminates local control of student assignment.

Kentucky Legislature Did Not Pass:

JCPS worked alongside bill sponsor and Senate Majority Caucus Chair Julie Raque Adams on legislation that would have addressed the ideas expressed in the board’s legislative agenda around superintendent screening committees. The bill passed out of the Senate, passed unanimously out of the House Education Committee, and received two readings on the House floor. Unfortunately, the bill was not called for a third and final vote. We encourage our partners to stay engaged with us as we work toward making this a reality in 2022! You can view the bill draft here:


JCPS Advocated For:

JCPS urges the legislature to call upon the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) to submit a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education that allows FY21 accountability test results to be used for progress and intervention measures but not for high-stakes decision making.

JCPS urges the legislature to increase the N-value of 10 to 30 in the accountability system to maintain full transparency while providing a more robust sample size when making high-stakes decisions that impact school cultures and communities.

Kentucky Legislature Passed:

On the other hand, JCPS and other groups have made progress in advocating to increase the N-value to 30 for high-stakes accountability decisions. KDE determined it was within their regulatory authority to make that change, which was approved by the Kentucky Board of Education this spring. It will go to the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee for final consideration in May.

SB129. This law allows KDE to use a technical advisory committee other than the current National Technical Advisory Panel on Assessment and Accountability (NTAPAA). NTAPPA members are currently appointed by the Legislative Research Commission to include no fewer than three professionals with a variety of expertise in education testing and measurement. The panel advises the Commission and assists in the implementation of required state accountability testing. The law also directs a twice-annual report to the OEA on any modifications to the assessment and accountability system, the development of administrative regulations, and the setting of standards.

Why it matters to JCPS: Any change to the group that advises the implementation of required testing and accountability measures is noteworthy. JCPS staff will continue to monitor as the changes are implemented.  

Reducing Board Member Burden

JCPS Advocated For:

JCPS supports legislation to amend KRS 161.765 to allow appeals for demotions to be heard by the superintendent or his/her designee(s) instead of the board of education to align with KRS 160.370 and 160.380 giving express powers for all matters of personnel to the superintendent.

JCPS supports legislation that would allow the superintendent or his/her designee(s) to hear appeals for students regarding placement in alternative school settings. This would alleviate administrative burden on board of education members.

Kentucky Legislature Passed:

JCPS listed this as a conversation starter, and while no legislation was filed during this short, 30-day session, we will be working with our partners through the interim on these issues.


JCPS Advocated For:

JCPS supports legislation that would discourage students from using tobacco products, alternative nicotine products, or vapor products, including legislation that taxes alternative nicotine products and vapor products and that bans all flavors of vapor products. JCPS supports tax revenue generated from the sale of these products to fund community education and prevention programming aimed at educating minors and their families of the danger of use by minors of all tobacco products and education of families for identification of devices used and treatment options available.

JCPS supports legislation that would increase access to mental-health supports for students, including additional set-aside funds for licensed mental-health service providers for schools, which allows districts to take advantage of expanded Medicaid billing opportunities for schools.

Kentucky Legislature Passed:

HB140. This law will create greater regulation of telehealth activities and require reimbursement rates for telehealth to be equivalent to reimbursement rates for the same service provided in person. This is especially critical because it allows the Department for Medicaid Services to approve additional telecommunication technologies for administering telehealth. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2022.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS nurses provide Medicaid-eligible services to students and receive a partial reimbursement through Medicaid to do so. While some of the services we provide can be done via telehealth, this law will expand our ability to do so, meaning we can reach more students and garner more federal reimbursement dollars to support the positions. For example, a nurse at one school could provide eligible telehealth services to a student in another school that may not have a school nurse or whose school nurse might be gone that day. Expanded  Medicaid billing could also have impact on the provision of mental health services as well.

SB21.> This law deals primarily with voluntary transport of children between hospitals and mental health facilities, but most importantly, it establishes that any qualified mental health professional may provide outpatient mental health counseling to any child who is age 16 or older and is an unaccompanied youth.

Why it matters to JCPS: The latter part of the bill regarding mental health counseling could make it easier for unaccompanied youth to receive mental health services that they need without the requirement to have a “parent” to consent on their behalf. 

SB148.  The law bars the Cabinet for Health and Family Services from requiring class sizes for childcare centers lower than the level set before the pandemic, once the emergency expires.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS operates a childcare center at the Teenage Parent Program (TAPP). While that childcare center has not been in operation during the school closures, the law would bar the governor from enacting lower class size limits in the event of another public health emergency. 

SB65. Non-custodial parents who qualify for SNAP benefits will lose those benefits if they are behind on child support payments.

Why it matters to JCPS: FRYSCs will have to be on the lookout to ensure kids impacted by this situation do not go hungry.

SB127. Schools are encouraged, but not required, by this law to have two emergency bronchodilator (asthma) inhalers located in two separate places in every school.

Why it matters to JCPS:  JCPS already has this policy in place! It was adopted last year in response to the nearly 7,000 students in JCPS reported to have asthma. Out of concern for access to emergency medications when needed, the JCPS board policy was based on a national recommendation from the American Lung Association. You can view our Jefferson County Board Policy by clicking policy number 09.224 here:


HB4. Passage of this law means voters will decide on a possible change to the Kentucky Constitution that would allow the legislature to save legislative days and wait to adjourn sine die until later in the year. It would also allow the legislature, upon a 3/5ths vote, to extend the 30- or 60- day sessions by no more than 12 legislative days with a maximum of four legislative days per week.

Why it matters to JCPS: This could have impact on JCPS’s advocacy efforts and provide more opportunities throughout the year to have impact on critical pieces of legislation. It also means that JCPS and other school districts will have to remain active in year-round advocacy to ensure education voices are heard.

HB163. The Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) will now be required to reissue certification for a lapsed certificate to an applicant who holds a master's degree and is not subject to denial of a certificate.

Why it matters to JCPS: This law could push more teachers into the pipeline, particularly those that may have retired and wish to return to teaching.

HB178. This law requires appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education to reflect equal gender representation and proportionally reflect the Commonwealth's political affiliation and minority racial composition. The provision adding a student member and a teacher to the board as non-voting members that was removed through the process was added back in at the last minute. The law also prohibits the Governor from reorganizing the board.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS Student Solyana Mesfin, who is currently serving as the first ever student member on this body, would be able to continue serving alongside the newly-appointed teacher member, Allison Slone (Morehead). Further, the removal of the gubernatorial authority to reorganize the board could protect the board of education from political swings.

HB312. Individuals outside Kentucky who do not conduct business in Kentucky are barred from requesting open records of Kentucky’s public agencies with the exception of media outlets, which are still permitted to request records regardless of residency. Agencies will also now have five days, up from three, to respond to open records requests (not counting weekends and government holidays). Records requested of the Legislative Research Commission or  members of the General Assembly that are related to records of bills, votes, salary and expense data paid to members, meeting notices and other information and educational materials are still fair game, but no other records are subject to disclosure. That is, reporters will no longer be able to request correspondence to and from legislators to their constituents, cabinet officials, or each other.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS receives many requests for open records. While we are permitted by this law to refuse any out-of-state requests, we are not required to.

HB331. The commissioner of education or the Kentucky Board of Education can no longer remove a local school board member. The authority for that now rests solely in the hands of the Attorney General.

Why it matters to JCPS: The Attorney General is generally the one who removes school board members anyway. However, this removes the ability for an unelected leader like the commissioner to make unilateral decisions regarding local elected leadership.

HB429. The bill gives the Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) the same power, process, and procedures relating to reviewing administrative regulations as the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee (ARRS).

Why it matters to JCPS: Many of the administrative regulations we track go through one or both of these committees. Giving the authority for review to the EAARS committee will reduce redundancy and allow proposed regulations to go through the process more quickly.

HB475. As of July 1 of this year, any Kentucky Office of Safety and Health Administration (KOSHA) regulations that are more stringent than the federal OSHA guidelines will be invalid. Ironically, there are some Kentucky regulations that  are less stringent than federal guidelines, which are allowed as long as they remain “as effective” as the federal guidelines. We will have to await guidance from KOSHA on any changes of relevance to schools.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS must adhere to federal and state OSHA requirements. The district will need to monitor for changes to any regulations that may change as a result and notify staff accordingly.

HB574. Kentucky elections will now have three early in-person voting days, including a Saturday.

Why it matters to JCPS: More in-person voting days could mean more days out of school for future school calendars, as many of the district’s schools serve as voting locations. Even if those early voting locations are not in schools, staff accommodations during early voting will need to be made.

SB8. Families who wish to be exempt from required immunizations no longer need to claim the religious exemptions. Any family wishing to opt out of required immunizations simply has to submit a form citing their abstention based on “conscientiously held beliefs.”

Why it matters to JCPS: Any deterrent to community-wide vaccinations could result in lower immunization rates in children and families against life-threatening and debilitating illnesses, such as measles, polio, and mumps. This has a potentially negative impact on at-risk children who experience disproportionate access to healthcare, since it makes it easier for parents with difficulty accessing the healthcare system to opt out of life-saving immunizations. School nursing staff will need to remain diligent for signs of formerly eradicated or newly infectious disease transmission.

SB128. The bill allows K-12 students to repeat coursework for this year only, and only if the local board of education votes to opt into the program. Students have to submit a request to repeat coursework by May 1 of this year. The board will then have until June 1 to determine whether the district will choose to participate in this option. If the board chooses to participate, the district will have to submit a plan for implementation and a copy of all requests received by June 16. Click here to see the Kentucky Department of Education’s recent guidance.

Why it matters to JCPS: JCPS students may have students who choose to take advantage of this program, which will require review and approval or non-approval from the Jefferson County Board of Education on or before June 1, 2021.

HCR25. The third week of September will become the annual kickoff week for the Kentucky “Principal for a Day” program administered by the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.

Why it matters to JCPS: The program encourages state House and Senate members to shadow a principal in their district during this week. This presents a great opportunity for JCPS to participate as part of a larger, statewide celebration of public schools and could incentivize more legislators to get into their schools to see the real work.

Looking Ahead

Check back here during the interim for some deeper dives into education policy issues. We will explore and break down  issues that are portrayed as too complicated for public consumption  and provide real-world examples to show you why they are important. Expect to see a short primer on how schools and school districts are funded by state and federal governments, an inside look at how Kentucky creates school report cards, state and national trends on student health, and deeper dives into what school equity really means.

Until then, feel free to share this blog with others who may benefit. I encourage you to begin asking questions of the legislators that represent you to learn more about why they voted for or against certain issues. And, I encourage everyone I know to make sure you’re registered to vote! Thank you for your support of our public schools!

By Abby Piper

The legislature convenes at noon today for the final two days of the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly. The morning is slated for a handful of committees needed only for the purposes of passing any final priority bills. Per Section 42 of Kentucky’s Constitution, the General Assembly must adjourn by midnight on March 30 during odd-numbered years (e.g. 2021), so there is a finite amount of time left for any action. 

Expect the last two days to be heavy on two things – final passage of bills unlikely to be vetoed and focus around overriding the vetoes issued by Governor Beshear during the 10-day recess. Laws must be acted upon (vetoed, signed into law, or allowed to become law without signature) within 10 days of passage; thus the reason for the 10-day veto recess. The fate of all previously passed bills is sealed unless they have been vetoed. 


Section 88 of Kentucky’s Constitution requires “a majority of all the members elected” to each chamber to vote affirmatively to override any gubernatorial veto. That is, the House will have to have 51 votes to override vetoes; the Senate will have to have 20. Normally, a simple majority of members present suffices to pass a bill. Think about the example of HB563 on education opportunity accounts, which passed the House 48 to 47. That will not be the case for veto overrides. 

Private School Scholarship Tax Credits, Open Borders

HB563 on education opportunity accounts (private school scholarship tax credits plus public school open enrollment) was vetoed by the Governor and, given the scenario above, will require three more votes to override than were originally there for original passage. However, five members did not vote (one Democrat and four Republicans). One of those members is Rep. Bam Carney, who has been recovering from a life-threatening health event and who has not been in the Capitol for two full years. Given that math, the 51-vote threshold is possible, although the margin is slim. In truth, it likely passed even on the original slim margin because House leadership promised $100+ million to fund all-day kindergarten, but that promise has, up to this writing, been unfulfilled. Since the budget has already been passed along to the governor, leadership will have to find a way to fund $100+ million outside of the budgeting process if they are going to keep that promise.  

Bear in mind that there are only 25 Democrats in the 100-member Kentucky House of Representatives, so this is a strong message from rural Republicans about the difficulties of taking a vote for this bill. You can see the vote count on page 22 here.  

JCPS remains strongly opposed to this bill, and we urge our lawmakers to vote no to override the veto. We have discussed this issue at length in this blog, but the statements from Education Commissioner Jason Glass, who is also opposed to the bill, say it all. Click here to watch an excerpt of his statements on the bill in the most recent Louisville Forum. 

In addition, Executive Director Rhonda Caldwell from the Kentucky Association of School Administrators noted in a press conference last week that iIn the final hours on day 28 of the 30-day session, this bill was passed by a House divided—a vote of 48 yes to 47 no” and that the bill makes “hollow promises and private agendas” that “pits private schools against public schools and public schools against each other.” 

In his veto message, Governor Beshear said he vetoed HB563 for four primary reasons: 

  • The bill will drain $25 million from the state General Fund, which could have gone to funding public schools. 
  • The account granting organizations that would be created by the bill are unaccountable to the public, will skim 10% off the top for administrative costs, and will likely pour the remaining funds into private schools. 
  • The bill diverts money away from rural communities by creating a carve out of Kentucky’s most populous counties. 
  • The bill is, he claims, unconstitutional because it uses state funds for sectarian schools (Section 189 of the Kentucky Constitution) and because it is not an efficient system of common schools as required by Section 183 of the Kentucky Constitution. 

Click here to read the veto message. 


Governor Beshear also issued line item vetoes within the budget. As a reminder, the governor can only line-item veto bills with appropriations. That is, if the bill spends the Commonwealth’s money, the governor can veto sections of the bill while leaving other sections alone. Lawmakers could choose to override all vetoes in one motion or to override each line item veto separately. 

Of relevance to us here, Governor Beshear vetoed a provision that would limit the governor’s use of the $2.6 billion coming to Kentucky allocated through the federal American Rescue Act without approval from the legislature. Governor Beshear claims it violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and would delay the deployment of aid to Kentuckians during the pandemic. 

He also vetoed a section that would require “any federal funds received related to COVID-19 emergency response or pandemic relief” to be spent BEFORE any of Kentucky’s General Fund dollars be allocated to the Kentucky School for the Blind and Kentucky School for the Deaf. In his veto message, Governor Beshear states that the cut would violate “supplement, not supplant” rules in the American Rescue Plan Act that requires that all education funding must be held at current levels. That is, the federal recovery money must be used to supplement current funding efforts, not to take the place (“supplant”) of monies that would normally be allocated. Violating this provision could make Kentucky ineligible to receive the billions in federal aid coming down the pike. 

Further, Governor Beshear vetoed a provision that provides guidance on the transfer of a formerly state-run area technology center (ATC) to a local district. Governor Beshear vetoed the bill because it conflicts with SB101 already passed by lawmakers this spring. While Jefferson County does not have a state-run ATC, this is of relevance to career and technical education in our surrounding areas. JCPS’ Academies of Louisville are all considered locally-operated vocational centers. 

Children’s Services Contractors would be allowed to discriminate against children and families if Beshear’s next veto is overridden. Beshear vetoed language specifying that “no contracts awarded…shall interfere with the contractor’s freedom of religion” and can turn down work “based on religiously held beliefs” saying that “it would permit the discrimination and persecution of children who are in need of out-of-home care because of their disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or many other conditions at a most critical time” and would decrease the number of foster care placements. 

Finally, Governor Beshear vetoed language that would allow local governments to review, inspect, and enforce responsibilities over school buildings at the discretion of local school districts. The veto message specifies that the provision “undercuts current law” which requires school building plans to be reviewed at the state level. 

Click here to read the veto message. 


Governor Beshear also vetoed HB258 on teacher pension reform. This bill is the culmination of months of work between the “K Groups,” (KASA, KASS, KSBA) and JCTA alongside Republican Representative and former NSBA board member Ed Massey. The bill would create a new tier of employees hired on or after January 1, 2022. Those employees would receive a dual benefit system consisting of a blend of the current defined benefit pension (your benefit is defined and estimable) and a new 401(k)-style hybrid cash balance plan (your benefit changes with the market). It would also increase the retirement age to 57 and calculate the defined benefit portion based on an average of the employee’s highest five years of salary. Current employees can use the highest five or, if they have served enough time, can calculate based on the highest three years.  

In his veto message, Governor Beshear expressed his disappointment in the legislature’s failure to fund teacher raises and said he is vetoing the bill because it “…prospectively cuts teachers retirement benefits, which will impair the Commonwealth’s ability to attract and retain teachers…”

Click here to read the veto message.

Transparency and Accountability

HB312, which would bar anyone living outside of Kentucky from requesting open records requests of Kentucky’s public agencies, is also on the growing veto pile. Proponents have said the bill is intended to protect constituents’ private information from being released to the public when they email their lawmakers, but opponents say that required redacting already takes care of that and that the bill is just another roadblock to transparency. 

Beshear’s veto message on this bill is simple. He said he is vetoing the bill “because it defeats the entire purpose of the Kentucky Open Records Act.” 

Click here to read the veto message. 

Employee Safety

Governor Beshear also vetoed HB475. The bill would bar Kentucky from adopting any safety standards above and beyond the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Governor Beshear wrote in his veto message that he is vetoing the bill because it “intentionally weakens worker health and safety protections for Kentucky workers” and, ironically, because it will actually cause some Kentucky regulations to have to become more stringent. Current law allows Kentucky’s standards to be less stringent than the federal government so long as it remains as effective as the federal program. 

Click here to read the veto message.


Next week, I will provide a full list of education-related bills that passed as well as an update on the vetoes above. In the meantime, this is your LAST CHANCE to contact lawmakers about any issues still on the table for passage or veto overrides. A reminder that the capitol remains closed to the public, however, you can contact your legislators as always by calling 1-800-372-7181 or emailing lawmakers at Not sure who your legislators are?  Find your legislator here. And, you can watch the action live online at

By Abby Piper
March 22, 2021

At long last, lawmakers revealed their state budget proposal. The bill moved quickly through both chambers upon being released from the conference committee and is headed to the governor’s desk for consideration. Note that while the governor must veto or accept the entirety of most bills, bills with appropriations can be vetoed in parts (a “line-item” veto). Governors cannot change the budget at this point, but they can veto parts of it, all of it, or sign it in its entirety. The legislature will have another chance to override any vetoes when they return to Frankfort March 29 and 30.

The budget document currently on the governor’s desk is consistent with what lawmakers have passed in the last few cycles. That is, there is no increase to the per pupil funds allocated through the SEEK formula; critical programs for recruiting and retaining high quality teachers are zeroed out; there is still no funding for textbooks and instructional materials for public school students; and local districts still have to pick up the tab for almost half of the cost to transport children to school, including increased costs for maintenance and fuel.

It’s important to know that when funding remains flat in the per pupil funds, it is actually a cut. No new money means state investment in public education is neither keeping up with inflation nor the increasing costs to educate kids.  Further, every year districts receive less than the total per pupil amount allocated, because the formula penalizes districts with property growth. Of the $4,000 per pupil “guaranteed” in the base formula, JCPS actually receives only $1,123. Local taxpayers have to pick up the remainder of the tab. Where does the other $2,877 from the state go? It is reallocated to districts in rural areas with lower property tax revenue.

 The Budget Includes:

  • The actuarially required contributions (ARCs) for certified and classified staff.
  • $1 million dollars for the teacher scholarship program within the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority budget (KHEAA). This is an old program but it has not been funded for several years.
  • $500,000 in funding for Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG). This number doubled from last year.
  • $7.4 million allocated during last year’s budget for school-based mental health service providers (MHSPs) was included once more. This was allocated last year as part of the implementation of the 2019 School Safety and Resiliency Act (SB1).
  • An additional $1.1 million for Family Resource Youth Service Centers (FRYSCs)
  • $800,000 for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program -  a new addition to the budget
  • $3.6 million, an increase from $1 million, for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams for students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.
  • The Volkswagen settlement funds are included again this year and can be used to reimburse local school districts for 50% of the cost to replace up to five school buses per year. Replacements must be for buses with a chassis year of 2001 or earlier. A note – if many districts apply, the 50% reimbursement amount will be pro rata reduced.

In the Budget, but Funding Not Increased:

  • SEEK per pupil guaranteed base – this is the fourth year in a row that this dollar amount has not increased.
  • Funding for transportation, including bus maintenance, repairs, and fuel.
  • Funding for the salary supplement for National Board Certified Teachers. The amount has not increased above the $2.75 million budgeted for years even as more teachers become board certified each year. Local districts either have to make up the difference in the statutorily required $2,000 per year stipend or short change teachers.
  • Funds for career and technical education, which help support the JCPS Academies of Louisville
  • Extended school services, which help support additional learning for students beyond the school day
  • Gifted and Talented
  • Math Achievement
  • Read to Achieve
  • Safe Schools
  • Teach for America

NOT in the Budget

  • No Funding for all-day Kindergarten, which was promised by House leadership in passage of HB563 on scholarship tax credits. We can only assume that was a decoy to soften the bill to make it easier for some rural Republicans to take that vote.
  • No Funding for textbooks or instructional materials
  • No funding for professional development for teachers or for teacher’s professional growth
  • No funding for teacher recruitment and retention programs like the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program
  • No funding for health insurance for retirees under 65. This is critical gap coverage for our retirees, since they are not eligible for Medicare until the age of 65. The retirement trust fund will have to absorb the costs.
  • No funding for ACT testing, which is required by state law for juniors and, if adequate funds are allocated, for sophomores.
  • No funding for elementary school arts and humanities
  • No funding for the Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching
  • No funding for the Leadership and Mentor program
  • No funding for the Middle School Academic Center
  • No funding for Teacher Academies
  • No funding for teacher recruitment and retention
  • No funding for the Writing Program
  • No funding for Virtual Learning program

JCPS Opposes: Private School Scholarship Tax Credits

The veto recess began at midnight last Wednesday. This 10-day period allows for the Governor to review the bulk of the bills that have passed and choose to sign, veto, line-item veto (budget only), or allow bills to become law without his signature within 10 days of passage.

One of those bills headed to the Governor’s desk is HB563. JCPS strongly opposes this bill that would create tax credits for wealthy donors to create scholarships for private school students. The bill would also include public school students in these “education opportunity accounts,” but schools cannot charge for some services that would be included, like textbooks or occupational, behavioral, or speech therapies. Ultimately, we believe this bill would drain public coffers in an effort to privatize public education rather than adequately fund public schools. We are urging Governor Beshear to veto this unnecessary and harmful bill.

Coming Up

There are a number of other education related bills that could become law soon; we will cover those in the next blog post. Until then, click here to see a list of bills we are tracking that have become law already or are on the governor’s desk for consideration.

By Abby Piper
March 15, 2021

Lawmakers learned this week about the passage of the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package passed in Congress and signed into law by President Biden. Passage of the relief package coincided with lawmakers’ release of the state budget. The education opportunity account bill also passed the Kentucky House with very harmful amendments this week. This week’s blog will focus only on these two measures. 


The influx of federal dollars through the American Rescue Plan will assist school districts with reopening and safety measures. It includes mental health support for students, sanitation and mitigation strategy training for staff, cleaning supplies and PPE, along with facilities inspections, testing, and facilities upgrades to improve ventilation and air quality. Twenty percent of all funds awarded to school districts must be used for learning loss activities. School districts must develop and make available on the website a plan for return to in-person instruction and continuity of services to be eligible for the funds. Plans must be made available within 30 days of having received these funds and must include an open comment period before posting. 


The state budget released last week is a result of the bicameral negotiations in the free conference committee appointed to reconcile the House and Senate proposals. As a matter of process, the budget will have to be voted upon in both chambers – they will vote upon the free conference committee report – and then be signed into law or become law with the Governor’s signature. One note - while the Governor can only fully veto regular bills (not certain provisions within), he can veto line items within the state budget. However, since Governor Beshear will likely have to act upon the bill during the 10-day veto recess March 17-March 27, lawmakers will have two days at the end of the recess to override any vetoes. 

Kentucky’s constitution requires all bills with appropriations to receive yes votes by a three-fifths majority during 30-day sessions. For the House, this means the free conference committee report will need at least 60 votes to pass. The Senate will need 23 votes. 

Here are some budget highlights, organized by pro and con:

School District Funding

CON: SEEK per pupil guaranteed base remains flat at $4,000 per pupil. (Reminder that this is the base, not what JCPS receives). Each year that this amount remains flat represents a budget cut to districts for two reasons. The first is that property values increase over time and cause our required local effort to increase. The second reason is that flat funding isn’t keeping up with inflation, resulting, in effect, in a cut. 

CON: SEEK Transportation dollars also remain flat at $214.7 million. This also means that districts will have to pick up the tab for increased costs of fuel, replacements, and bus maintenance. 

CON: SEEK lapse funds at the end of the next fiscal year will default to the state’s rainy day fund. In years past any SEEK lapse has defaulted to the SEEK Transportation fund. 

CON: All-day Kindergarten, which was promised by House leadership in passage of HB563 on scholarship tax credits, is not included in this budget. We can only assume that was a decoy to soften the bill to make it easier for some rural Republicans to take that vote. 

CON: There is no funding for textbooks or instructional materials, professional development for teachers, or teacher recruitment and retention programs like the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program. This is not unexpected, as these programs were wiped out during Gov. Bevin’s administration, but it does continue to aggravate the teacher shortage. NOTE: HB563 (discussed below) would pay for private school students’ textbooks, but the legislature has not funded public school student textbooks since 2018. 

Retirement and Employees:

PRO: The actuarially required contributions (ARC) for KTRS and CERS are being paid. This is important to ensure the sustainability of the pension fund so that there are adequate funds to pay school employees when they retire. 

CON: Health insurance for retirees under 65 has not been funded. This is critical gap coverage for our retirees since they are not eligible for Medicare until the age of 65. 

CON: Funding for the salary supplement for National Board Certified Teachers remains flat. The amount has not increased above the $2.75 million budgeted for years, but more teachers become board certified each year. Local districts do not have to make up the difference, but JCPS has committed to doing so for the last several years. Failing to increase funding for this program means local districts have to decide to pick up the costs for these high-quality teachers to get what Kentucky law has promised them. 

Career and Technical Education

PRO: An additional $12 million was allocated in the CTE section of the budget to be distributed expressly to local area vocational education centers (LAVECs). The JCPS Academies of Louisville are all considered LAVECs. 

PRO: An additional $500,000 has been put into the Work Ready Scholarships fund. The fund helps pay for dual credit scholarships for high school students.  


PRO: The $7.4 million allocated during last year’s budget for school-based mental health service providers (MHSPs) was included once more. This was brand new language allocated last year as part of the implementation of the 2019 School Safety and Resiliency Act (SB1). Last year we worked with Senator Julie Raque Adams to have the language changed from “school counselor” to the MHSPs to allow us to better leverage federal Medicaid dollars through the recent Free Care waiver. That provision remains. 

Instructional Programs and Other Education Funds

PRO: $1.85 million for the Community Education Program

PRO: $23.9 million for the Extended School Services Program

PRO: $6.2 million for Gifted and Talented 

PRO: Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Exams funding was not cut, but has not increased from prior years. 

PRO: $18.4 million for adult education 

Facilities and Maintenance

PRO: The Volkswagen settlement funds are included again this year and can be used to reimburse local school districts for 50% of the cost to replace up to five school buses per year. Replacements must be for buses with a chassis year of 2001 or earlier. A note – if too many districts apply, the 50% reimbursement amount will be pro rata reduced, which is not great, but it’s better than nothing. 

PRO: School Facilities Construction dollars for debt service on new projects have vastly increased, from $2.9 million in fiscal year 2020-2021 to $4,974,600 in this upcoming fiscal year. 

PRO: $5 million included in the operations and support services for the State Schools HVAC Pool. 

Family Supports, Early Learners

PRO: $48.8 million for the FRYSCs

PRO: Tobacco settlement funds are being used to support health and education programs, including:

  • $9.75 million in for the Early Childhood Development Program
  • $2.5 million for Early Childhood Adoption and Foster Care Supports
  • $1.4 million for the Early Childhood Advisory Council
  • $7 million for the Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) program. This voluntary home visitation program for new or expectant parents provides educational supports for ensuring healthy and safe environments for children.
  • $965,000 for Healthy Start, which works to reduce infant mortality rates. One of the state’s few centers is here in Louisville. 
  • $965,000 for early childhood mental health
  • $1 million for early childhood oral health
  • $2 million for smoking cessation programs


The private school scholarship tax credit bill, HB563, passed out of the House this week with two floor amendments. The most critical floor amendment is HFA20, which allows these funds to pay for private school tuition only in Jefferson, Fayette, and Kenton Counties. The other floor amendment promised all-day kindergarten, but the state budget released Friday evening does not include the necessary funds, so we can only assume that provision will be stripped out in the Senate. 

JCPS started this blog to help our students, families, employees, and taxpayers understand the role and potential implications of legislative proposals in Frankfort and Washington. In that spirit, it’s important to help explain a bit about this week’s process. 

HB563 was merely an open enrollment bill until this week. The bill was drafted to allow students to attend public school districts outside of the district in which they reside. That is, a student in Shelby County who wanted to attend JCPS for a particular career pathway in our Academies of Louisville could have chosen to attend JCPS rather than Shelby County High School, where they live. 

But, a committee substitute was introduced on Wednesday of last week, and while it was discussed in a committee hearing on Wednesday and Thursday, the bill page did not post the committee substitute until it was already passed out of committee and on the House floor. The floor amendments voted upon (referenced above), were also not available to the public until after the votes were taken. 

The committee substitute adds the education opportunity account language from HB149 but makes changes to income eligibility and means-testing language. Essentially, the bill with the committee substitute and the floor amendments gives wealthy donors a tax break by allowing them to give money to a fund that will help pay for private school student tuition, textbooks, and other learning materials. Some of the items could also be available to public school students, but several of the allowable expenses are items that public schools cannot charge for, like textbooks, occupational and behavioral therapy, speech therapy, transportation, etc. 

The following issues are front and center in our advocacy against this expensive bill introduced at the last minute without the opportunity for the public to even view the proposals online. 

  1. The proposal has not had adequate time for feedback collection from key stakeholders, and since the state Capitol is closed to the public, it is more difficult for the public to be involved in this discussion.  The language introduced will make substantial changes to the educational system and have not been vetted with the public. Any proposed changes of this magnitude should have adequate time for public feedback and feedback from key stakeholders. Helpfully, the section of HB 563/PHS 1 that creates a School Funding Task Force, to be composed of legislators, the Commissioner of Education, district superintendents, and school board members offers the perfect venue for exactly the kind of public, thoughtful discussion we need regarding the best way to approach funding for K-12 education in Kentucky.
  2. The bill does not target low-income families. Households making $84,822 per year for a family of four would be eligible, but after the first year, students would be allowed to continue in the program until the household reached 250% of the federal reduced price meals threshold. That means a family of four making up to $121,175 in income could be eligible to receive these dollars – nearly 2.5 times the average median income.

Graph for family income levels for proposed k.y. s.t.c. e.o.a. eligibility (returning applicants 120,000. e.o.a. eligibility (new applicants) 82,000. federal poverty rate 24,000. reduced price lunch income threshold 44,000. annual median iincome 45,000.

Data Source:

  1. Tax credits reduce general fund revenue that could go to funding other state needs like affordable and reliable broadband, local economic development projects, and expansion of quality early childhood learning.  While citizens and corporations can already give scholarships to private schools for student tuition, those donations would be treated like other charitable donations. This bill would also create significant administrative costs – e.g., administration, oversight, and audits.


1. Corporation A owes $500,000 to the state in taxes. 

2. Next year, Corporation A decides to give $500,000 to the Education Opportunity Account Fund at the end of the year.

3. As a 95% tax credit, Corporation A would no longer owe the state $500,000. Instead, they would owe only $25,000.

In that single example, Kentucky would lose $475,000 in revenue.

  1. The bill allows discrimination, could provide state support for religious instruction, creates privacy concerns, and creates an expensive, unneeded bureaucracy. 
    1. Discrimination - Section 17(4) states, “An education service provider shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum to accept payments from an EOA.” This would allow education service providers to discriminate against students and families based on their religion, disability, or sexual orientation. 
    2. Government Support for Religion - The text of Section 17(4) allows an education service provider to use a curriculum that is religion-based, using a state-sponsored program for sectarian purposes.
    3. Data Protection -Under the annual reporting requirement in Section 12(3), there are no protections for student data privacy similar to those required for school districts under FERPA.  
  2. The proposal provides funding for items for which public schools cannot charge families. Public schools cannot charge for textbooks or instructional materials for K-8 students and lawmakers have zeroed out funds for these items in the last several budgets. Under the Constitution of Kentucky, it is the responsibility of the General Assembly to “provide for an efficient system of common schools throughout the State”. The focus of lawmakers should be to fulfill their Constitutional obligation through the adequate funding of public schools. Other items that public school districts are required to provide free of charge, and for which districts are not fully reimbursed by state or federal government include: Transportation, educational services and therapies such as occupational, behavioral, physical, speech-language, and audiology therapies that are required as part of an Individual Education Plan. 

Looking Ahead

Monday and Tuesday are the final days of the regular session before the veto period begins. During this period, the Governor has 10 days to sign or veto any laws passed by the General Assembly. Next week’s blog will focus on key education bills awaiting his signature or veto, and a look ahead to the final two days of the legislative session at the end of the month. 

A reminder that the capitol remains closed to the public, which makes it even more difficult for citizens’ voices to be heard. However, you can contact your legislators as always by calling 1-800-372-7181 or emailing lawmakers at Not sure who your legislators are?  Find your legislator here. And, you can watch the action live online at

By Abby Piper
March 8, 2021

Last Friday marked Day 24 of the 2021 Legislative session, which means only four legislative days remain until the 10-day veto recess. Here’s what’s ahead:

  • March 8-9 : Conference Committee
  • March 10-11: Standing Committees
  • March 11-12: Days 25 and 26 of the Legislative Session
  • March 15-16: Days 27 and 28 of the session
  • March 17-27: Veto Recess
  • March 29: Day 29 of the Legislative Session
  • March 30: Day 30 – Legislature Adjourns Sine Die until 2022.

Lawmakers will focus on the budget in these last two days of the conference committee. A joint session of the House and Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee has been scheduled for Wednesday morning. Kentuckians should expect to hear something about the FY22 budget at that time. Standing committees are being held to continue to move bills through the process outlined in last week’s blog, whereby bills must be heard and passed out of an appropriate committee before they can be voted upon by the full bodies.

HB208 passed last week and was signed by Governor Beshear. This bill, which is now law, is absolutely critical for Kentucky’s public schools because it codifies all the executive orders needed for for COVID-related operations so far this school year. The bill also includes requirements for school reopening this year. Those provisions align with the reopening plan voted upon by the Jefferson County Board of Education. Therefore, passage of the bill does not change anything for JCPS’s reopening plan communicated with families last week. The law requires that as of March 29, 2021:

  • All students must have access to in-person learning for at least 40% of instructional time each week (two days per week).
  • Districts must provide at least 80% in-person learning each week, meaning that the hybrid model approved by JCPS’ board can be used.
  • Families who choose to remain in virtual instruction five days per week will be allowed to do so upon written request, and will be allowed to revoke that request and return to in-person instruction at any time. 
  • State agency children will not be required to have an extended school calendar for any program serving their educational needs. Students shall receive the same minimum number of instructional hours provided to students generally by the applicable school district operating the state agency children program.
  • An additional 5 NTI days for districts that need to close due to inclement weather, (i.e. snow days, flooding) or illness.
  • Districts will continue to be funded at FY19 levels.
  • Districts will be limited to only 10 NTI days for next school year to be used for inclement weather or illness.
  • All schools will be allowed to use up to 30 minutes of instructional time each day for COVID-related activities, such as handwashing, cleaning, or conducting activities that take longer due to social distancing.
  • The Department of Education is instructed to seek federal waivers for the National School Lunch Program, the Individuals with Disabilities Act, and waivers from required school testing under ESEA. Unfortunately, the testing aspect of this bill is moot, as the U.S. Education Department has indicated that it will not waive testing requirements.
  • The Kentucky Department of Education has indicated that all schools will be considered as complying with this law as of March 29 if they are in Spring Break during that week, so long as the district’s operations comply with the law as soon as students return. That means full return via hybrid model for K-12 students on April 5 is compliant with this provision.

Scholarship Tax Credits

HB563 has been posted to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, and sponsor Rep. Chad McCoy released a committee substitute last Friday that will be considered at the committee’s meeting on Wednesday. JCPS is opposed to this bill and the committee substitute!

The bill would fundamentally change the way public education works in Kentucky, and stakeholders have not been consulted on the bill. There are significant equity issues with the bill, including the role of selection bias at minimum. The bill would allow discrimination against students and families, would put families at risk of predatory practices and privacy risks, and would be used by families who make over $121,000 per year. Further, public schools are already required by federal law to provide many of the services eligible for the grant, such as textbooks and educational therapies, which indicates that these funds are really there for private school students.

Ultimately, the proposed legislation has not had enough time to be reviewed by stakeholders, which becomes more difficult since the Capitol is not open to the public and many lawmakers calendars are too full to meet with constituents at this point in the legislative session. We strongly urge lawmakers to table this issue and consult with educators before passing harmful, inefficient policy that poses significant equity issues for Kentucky families.

SB77: Minority Representation on Superintendent Screening Committees

This bill is a priority for the Jefferson County Board of Education. It has already passed in the Senate, and received two readings on the House floor. The House Education Committee passed the bill with a committee substitute this week by unanimous vote. Rep. Attica Scott worked with JCPS and with Sponsor Julie Raque Adams on the committee substitute, which clarifies that the parent representatives on the superintendent screening committee could not be district employees.

As a reminder, the bill increases minority representation on superintendent screening committees in districts with 50% or higher minority student populations. You can access our one-pager with more details here.  

We are urging lawmakers to hear it for final passage on the House floor next Thursday when they reconvene. If you feel passionately about the bill, you can call the LRC message line at 1-800-372-7181 and leave messages for House Speaker David Osborne and House Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy, who will decide if it goes up for a vote.

Other Bills to Watch:

  • HB25: Convicted felons would be eligible to earn and use KEES money if this bill passes. It is posted to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.
  • HB89: Would make intimidation of a sports official a Class A misdemeanor. The bill awaits final passage in the Senate.
  • HB133: Would reduce the number of signatures required for a recall petition of a tax levy by a district board of education to 5,000 signatures. The bill has passed the House, received two readings in the Senate, and awaits consideration in the Senate State and Local Government Committee.
  • HB178: Would require appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education to reflect equal gender representation and proportionally reflect the Commonwealth's political affiliation and minority racial composition; provide that members can be removed if composition requirements are not met; add a student and a teacher to the board as non-voting members; prohibit the Governor from reorganizing the board. The bill passed the House of Representatives and has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.
  • HB184: Would allow a student who attends an out-of-state high school or Department of Defense school due to a parent's military transfer to earn a KEES award if the student earned a base amount in a previous year at a Kentucky high school. The bill passed the House of Representatives and has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.
  • HB214: Would require all PPE purchased or sold in Kentucky be made in America. This could more than double the costs for public school districts to provide PPE. The bill has passed the House and awaits a hearing in the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee.
  • HB258 is a byproduct of many months of negotiation between the state’s nonprofit education partners and House Republican and former school board member Ed Massey. The bill would create a new pension tier for new employees, shifting them into a hybrid defined benefit and 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. The plan does not change benefits for existing or retired employees. The Kentucky Association of School Superintendents has put together a thorough breakdown of what the bill would do. You can view it here. The bill passed the House in late February and has two readings on the Senate floor. It must be considered by the Senate State and Local Government before it can receive a final vote.
  • HB384: Would allow administrators of schools that participate in the Federal School Breakfast Program to allow up to 15 minutes of student attendance per day to provide students the opportunity to eat breakfast during instructional time. The bill passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee for review.
  • SB8: Would prohibit any administrative regulation, administrative order, or executive order from mandating that any child, emancipated minor, or adult be required to be vaccinated. The bill passed the Senate, was reported favorably in the House Health and Family Services Committee, and has two readings on the Senate floor. Its final step is passage.
  • SB128: Would allow public school students currently enrolled in Kentucky to request to use the 2021-2022 school year as a supplemental school year to retake and supplement coursework already completed. The bill passed the Senate and awaits consideration in the House.

In Washington

The U.S. Senate passed the American Rescue Plan in the early morning hours of March 6th. Of relevance to public schools, the bill will provide districts with some funding for learning loss activities, funds for childcare and Head Start, money for the E-Rate program that assists districts in providing education technology for students, and increases and extends the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program that provides families with cash benefits to purchase the food that children would otherwise be receiving at school. Funds can also be used for school repair and improvements to reduce risks of viral transmission, update indoor air quality systems, and provide for student health needs. Nutrition Assistance funds are also included for the purposes of increasing funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and nutrition supplements for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

Funds have also been allocated to states for widespread acceleration of COVID-19 vaccinations and testing.

Districts must provide a public-facing plan for full-time reopening with a 30-day comment period in order to receive funds. Any funds not allocated by a state within one year must be returned so they can be reallocated to other states.

By Abby Piper
March 1, 2021

Lawmakers will convene today for Day 20 of the 30-day legislative session. Lawmakers have been silent on the budget and its contents for the upcoming fiscal year, but time is running out to reveal it. To ensure lawmakers would have a chance to override a potential gubernatorial veto of their budget,  the legislature will have to pass it within the next eight working session days. Click here to see the updated calendar for working session days. 

However, the Kentucky House and Senate have been busy with other matters. According to the Legislative Research Commission, lawmakers filed 881 bills by the deadline to file new legislation arrived last Tuesday. Lawmakers also passed a number of bills through their originating chambers (the chamber the bill was filed in), and now the “crossover” of bills begins in earnest. 

For those readers who are interested in the process, the following road map lies before any bill in Kentucky before it can become law: 

  1. Bill is filed by the lawmaker.
  2. Bill is assigned to a relevant committee for consideration, where it could be voted upon. Bills must “pass” a committee with a majority vote of “yes” to be heard on the chamber floor. 
  3. Bill must receive two readings on the chamber floor.
  4. Bill must receive its third reading and pass with a majority “yes” vote. 
  5. “Crossover” happens next. Once a bill passes its originating chamber, it is received in the opposite chamber (i.e. a House bill then “crosses over” to the Senate for consideration). 
  6. Process 2-4 must repeat in the opposite chamber. 
  7. If changes are made to the bill, it must cross back over to the originating chamber to be voted upon again for concurrence or non-concurrence. That is, the originating chamber has to agree to the changes or vote not to agree with the changes. 
  8. If the House and Senate can’t agree on a final version of a bill, a conference committee with members from both chambers works out a compromise for both chambers to vote on.
  9. The bill then goes to the Governor’s office to be signed into law, be vetoed, or become law naturally without his signature after 10 days. 

If any of these things listed above don’t happen, a bill cannot become law. 

Here are some bills to watch this week, organized according to the JCPS Board of Education’s legislative agenda priorities. 


House Bill 208 (HB208) with House Floor Amendment 5 (HFA5) passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon. It has since been received in the Senate and given its first reading. In its current state, the bill would require districts to open for at least four days of in-person instruction with each student being offered at least two days of in-person instruction. Districts would still be allowed to use up to five NTI (non-traditional instruction) days for inclement weather or illness and could request additional days from the Commissioner of Education if a county’s COVID incidence rate increases past 25 per 100,000 people. The bill needs to pass and go into effect before midnight March 3 to hold districts harmless for the COVID flexibilities used during this school year.  

HB563 was filed on the bill filing deadline by Rep. McCoy, who also sponsored the scholarship tax credit legislation. The bill would allow open enrollment of students across district boundaries – that is, any student anywhere in Kentucky could apply to go to a school in any district. Given that the title of the act is “an act relating to school choice,” this would allow the bill to serve as a mule for other wish list items from the privatization advocates like Ed Choice. A nearly identical bill was heard for discussion only in the Senate Education Committee this week (SB170). 

HB133 passed out of the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee last Wednesday with a committee substitute. The bill, with the committee substitute, would reduce the number of signatures required for a recall petition of a tax levy by a district board of education. If the bill passes in its current form, the number of signatures required to put a tax hike on the ballot would decrease from 10% of the number of voters who voted in the previous presidential election (approximately 34,000 in Jefferson County) to a flat 5,000 signatures for every district in Kentucky. The original bill set the number of signatures at 100 signatures; the committee substitute increased that to 5,000. The bill has two readings on the House floor. 


HB87 relating to Kentucky’s retirement systems passed the House last Thursday. The bill would allow a widow or widower receiving survivor’s benefits to remarry without losing benefits and would apply the alternate death benefit calculation options available prior to 2009 for deaths occurring prior to retirement. The bill removes other barriers to receiving benefits and simplifies the benefit calculation process for members as well as dates retroactively to 2009 to cover the gap in legislation between pre-2009 provisions and current ones. It must be considered by the Senate before it can become law.

Another pension bill, HB258, is a byproduct of many months of negotiation between the state’s nonprofit education partners and House Republican and former school board member Ed Massey. The bill would create a new tier for new employees, shifting them into a hybrid defined benefit and 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. The plan does not change benefits for existing or retired employees. The Kentucky Association of School Superintendents has put together a thorough breakdown of what the bill would do. You can view it here. The bill passed the House in early February, but has not moved in the Senate. 


HB178 would require appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education to reflect equal gender representation and proportionally reflect the Commonwealth’s political affiliation and racial composition. The bill would also add a teacher, a student, and the Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet as non-voting members. Finally, the bill would prohibit the Governor from reorganizing the board. The bill passed the House Education Committee Tuesday and the full House floor Thursday.  

SB77 relating to minority representation was received in the House on Monday but is awaiting committee assignment in that chamber. This priority bill for the JCPS Board of Education would increase minority representation on superintendent screening committees for majority-minority school districts. There are currently eight Kentucky districts that this would affect, including Bowling Green Independent Schools, Christian County Schools, Covington Independent Schools, Fayette County Public Schools, Fulton Independent Schools, Jefferson County Public Schools, Mayfield Independent Schools, and Paducah Public Schools. 


HB253 would require completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to receive a high school diploma. The bill also provides waiver options for families who choose to opt out. The bill passed out of the House Education Committee on Tuesday and has two readings, making it ready for passage on the House Floor.  

Other bills addressing KEES money include HB235, which would allow students who enroll in the Navy Reserves to use KEES money at an out-of-state institution in a state within the Southern Regional Education Board and HB338, which would expand KEES eligibility to proprietary colleges.

SB225 passed out of committee and off the Senate floor this week with Senate Committee Substitute 1 (SCS1). This bill would allow seniors to use the GPA at the end of last year, if higher than 2020-21, for calculating KEES money. Ninth, 10th, and 11th graders may substitute next year’s (2021-22) GPA for this past year if higher as well.

HB331 would remove the Commissioner of Education’s ability to remove a school board member, defaulting the authority for removal to the Attorney General. The bill passed the House floor Thursday evening with the endorsement of the Kentucky School Boards Association. 

SB115 passed the Senate with Senate Committee Substitute 1 (SCS1) and Senate Floor Amendment 1 (SFA1) on Thursday. The bill aims to increase the number of early literacy interventions paid for by the state to the tune of $3 million over two years. Representatives from the Kentucky Department of Education testified the bill would allow for more consistent intervention programs across districts and allow the department to serve approximately 200,000 students rather than the 10,000 being currently served through Read to Achieve grants, which don’t reach every school in Kentucky.  


Although several bills aimed at curbing access to e-tobacco products have been filed, there has been little movement on any of them. However, passing a state budget almost always necessitates the passage of a “revenue” bill, and this year’s bill, HB249, includes language from HB85 regarding taxation of open vaping systems. The language aligns with the JCPS Board’s goal of reducing access to e-tobacco products among teens. The bill passed out of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee last week. 

Budget Update from Washington

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve the America Rescue Plan Act of 2021 around 2 a.m. on Saturday morning. The bill is President Biden’s vision for a third COVID relief package. Of relevance to educators, the $1.9 trillion proposal would push money into vaccination programs, increase the child tax credit from $3,000 per child to $3,600 for children ages 0-6, and provide assistance to local government and school districts for reopening. 

If passed by the U.S. Senate, the package would include $130 billion for K-12 public education. The money would go toward improved ventilation systems for schools, PPE, reducing class sizes, and other measures intended to assist with social distancing. An additional $5 billion would also be set aside for Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT), which we saw locally in Louisville throughout the fall. This program gives low-income families a card with funds loaded to purchase food that students would have received in school. 

U.S. House Democrats have indicated that they intend to get this package, in some form, on President Biden’s desk before mid-March to avoid millions of Americans losing unemployment benefits. Even with House approval, there is a formidable path through the Senate, which has 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker in the event of a split vote. 

Looking Ahead

Things will move quickly in the coming weeks, at least in Frankfort. By the time we post next week’s blog, there will be only three working days left until the Veto Recess period begins. Lawmakers have reserved two days at the end of the month to override any vetoes or pass legislation that they don’t believe will be vetoed. Click here to view the official calendar. 

The Kentucky House Education Committee has announced a special-called meeting on Monday to review eight bills before the full chamber convenes (normal meeting time is Tuesday morning). You can view the agenda here. Senate Education Committee Chair Max Wise announced last week that members should expect a special-called Education Committee meeting next week ahead of their regularly-scheduled Thursday meeting as well. 

Remember that you can watch the proceedings, including committees, live or via archive at To send feedback to your lawmakers about these or any other issues, you feel passionate about, you can call 1-800-372-7181 or email them at Not sure who your legislators are? Find your legislator here.

By Abby Piper
February 15, 2021

The legislative session is nearing the halfway mark, and the legislature’s budget proposal remains in conference committee with members on both sides mum on the contents.

There has been no movement on HB149, the bill on scholarship tax credits either, although there is plenty of time to pass it. Public education advocates continue to voice opposition for this expensive proposal which lacks accountability, and we urge our readers to review former issues of this blog for details. The program could be layered into the budget, although that would sunset the program in one year when the budget expires, meaning members would have to come back and vote for it again in 2022 to codify the program and make it a permanent part of state law.

Here are a few other bills and issues to keep on your radar, organized by our legislative agenda priority categories:


HB208, a COVID-relief bill, would largely codify the executive orders filed by Governor Beshear that allow school districts to grant additional COVID-related emergency days for staff, ensure consistency in state funding for schools, and provide other needed flexibilities that schools had to implement during the pandemic.

Rep. Felicia Rabourn filed several floor amendments to HB208 this week. After withdrawing two of those amendments, Floor Amendments 2 and 4 remain for consideration before the House can pass the bill. Floor Amendment 2 would require student attendance data for school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 be used to calculate districts’ SEEK funding. Floor amendment 4 would require districts to provide in-person instruction to all students after March 1, 2021, except in the case of inclement weather, in order for districts to be able to use more than 10 NTI days per school year.

Racial Equity

The Jefferson County Board of Education’s top priority bill, SB77, passed in the full Senate 27-1 late Thursday. This bill sponsored by Louisville Senator Julie Raque Adams and cosponsored by Louisville Senator Gerald Neal would expand minority representation on superintendent screening committees in districts with 50% or more minority student populations. The bill will be received in the House next week, but will still need to be assigned to a committee, heard and passed in that committee, and then passed on the full House floor for it to become law. In short, the road is long, but we are halfway there.

SB170 is a bill to keep on your radar. In non-technical terms, the measure would create open enrollment of students across district boundaries – that is, any student anywhere in Kentucky could apply to go to a school in any district. Districts would be required to pay a reasonable tuition fee negotiated between districts. This would pose significant racial equity problems for JCPS as it relates to magnet enrollment and opportunity, athletics and extracurriculars, and funding. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

Convicted felons would be eligible to earn and use KEES money if HB25 passes. It has two readings on the floor of the House and is awaiting final passage in that chamber before it goes to the Senate for consideration.

SB10 would establish a state-level Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity. Its purpose would be to research disparities in educational equity, health, economic opportunity, and criminal justice. The bill passed out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee and received its second reading in the full Senate this week.


SB115 is an early literacy bill based on the Mississippi model aimed at getting students reading on a proficient level by third grade. Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) officials testified in support of the bill, saying that the Read to Achieve program, which serves about 10,000 students in Kentucky, has had great outcomes but is insufficient to serve the 200,000 students that KDE wants to help. The bill would come with $3 million over two years for funding early literacy programs. It would provide districts with the ability to create consistent programming across the district, create a multi-tiered system of support, and ensure quality training for teachers. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee this week.

Current high school students could choose to use next school year as a supplemental school year if Senate Education Committee Chair Max Wise’s SB128 passes. The bill would allow students to choose to retake coursework that they don’t feel they truly mastered, including coursework that would allow them to earn career certifications.


HB9 cleans up some of the loose ends from last year’s legislation separating the County Employee Retirement System (CERS) from the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS). This bill has the support of the Kentucky Association of Counties, Kentucky League of Cities, KSBA, and about 20 other organizations.


Bills aiming to curb e-cigarette use have not moved so far this session, but SB127 would encourage schools to keep two rescue inhalers on site in two different locations. It passed out of the Senate last week and heads to the House for consideration.

Looking Ahead

You may have noticed that a lot of the bills discussed above have passed or are near passage in their originating chamber (the chamber they were filed in). This “crossover” time indicates that the session is on its downhill slope, and it is not unusual for a multitude of committee substitutes or floor amendments to be tacked onto bills as they move toward the finish line. The last day to file new bills was extended by state lawmakers this week to February 16, but remember that with only 15 days left to pass a veto-proof bill and the minimum five days to pass a bill from start to finish, the window for passage is narrowing. 

Critical issues including the budget, COVID-relief measures, pension reform, and bills to advance racial equity are still pending as the clock winds down. Since committees typically only meet once per week, that means that there are only two (possibly three) chances for a bill to make the committee agenda and receive a favorable vote. This Friday will mark Day 19 of the session, so activity is expected to reach a crescendo.

Don’t forget that you can call your legislators about these or any other issues you feel passionately about by calling 1-800-372-7181 or emailing them at Not sure who your legislators are?  Find your legislator here. And, you can watch the action live online at

By Abby Piper
February 8, 2021

Lawmakers reconvened this week for Part II of the 2021 General Assembly, with six bills moving through committees. While no budget language has been released, lawmakers have continued to meet on the budget privately while issues of pension, historic horse racing, and vaccinations dominated the public-facing meetings.

Thanks to Senators Raque Adams and Neal!

One of JCPS’s priority bills passed out of the Senate Education Committee this week. SB77 would increase minority representation on superintendent screening committees in districts with 50% or higher minority student populations. While we were hoping for a unanimous vote that could have placed it on the Senate’s consent calendar, some lawmakers expressed concerns that the bill represents an unnecessary government overreach. That means we will have to work harder to ensure we have enough votes in the full Senate when the bill is called for a vote, which we expect sometime next week. You can watch the committee hearing here.

Teacher Pensions

At the same time SB77 was being voted upon in the Education Committee, HB278 on pensions was going through the same process in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. It was approved by the committee and later passed the full House. The bill would grandfather in all current and retired employees but create a new tier for employees hired on or after January 1, 2022. The new hires would get a defined benefit Foundational Component (social security replacement component) and a defined contribution Supplemental Component (401k-like component). Employees in this new tier would have to work longer to receive their full payout, and benefit calculations would be based upon the highest five years of salary, not three. Finally, the life insurance benefit for new hires would double to $5,000 for active members and $10,000 for retired members. The Kentucky Association of School Superintendents has a great side-by-side document here.  


In vaccination news, Senator Mike Wilson’s SB8 expanding the religious exemption for vaccination opt-outs passed the Senate this week. The bill would allow anyone objecting due to “conscientiously held beliefs” to opt out of receiving otherwise required vaccinations and prohibit any administrative regulation, order, or executive order from requiring immunizations during a pandemic. JCPS has opposed the bill for the simple reason that religious exemptions for vaccinations are already in use and anti-vaccination laws may create unnecessary fear among families on the safety of critical, life-saving vaccinations.


As expected, the legislature easily overrode all six of Governor Beshear’s vetoes. Among those were SB1 and SB2 limiting executive orders and emergency regulations to 30 days without further authorization from the legislature. Lawmakers also overrode Governor Beshear’s veto of HB1, which would allow business, nonprofits, and school districts to remain open during a health emergency as long as they follow CDC guidelines (or state guidelines, whichever are the least restrictive). All three of these bills have emergency clauses, making them effective immediately. However, Governor Andy Beshear filed suit this week challenging all three and requested a temporary injunction from Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd. The court did issue a temporary injunction, but only for HB1. The others will go into effect as intended by the legislature.

Week 4 Installment: Opposition to HB149

As we have outlined previously in this blog, JCPS opposes HB149 regarding educational opportunity accounts (scholarship tax credits). Here are a few more reasons for our opposition:

HB149 does not require criminal background checks for employees of account granting organizations or education service providers. Further, it does not require them to comply with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that protects student privacy. And, there are even more issues with this bill that could put students and families at risk.

Section 11(4) of the bill allows outright discrimination. This provision means that ANY nonpublic school could refuse to serve LGBTQ students or students of different religious beliefs. Further, nonpublic schools would still be allowed to require entrance examinations, meaning they would not be required to accept students that are not doing well in school, students who may have learning disabilities, or students who are wanting to pursue career pathways rather than college. Rather, they would only be incentivized to increase their thresholds in order to “weed out” any students that would hurt the college acceptance numbers they use to recruit families (since they don’t have Kentucky Accountability Data).

Families could fall victim to predatory practices. Educational predatory practices take advantage of people without the information available to make an informed decision and “sell” them a higher-cost, counter-productive product or service. In this case, the bill would allow both the account granting organizations and the education service providers to target families of students who are doing well in public schools or students who are athletically inclined. In targeting these families, these groups could try to convince families, with no available data, that their student would be better off in a nonpublic school. They could also sell families educational products families don’t need in an attempt to make money off the state program. This means these organizations and companies could also convince families they need costly therapeutic services that create conflicts in care.

Schools will be incentivized to accept wealthier students. The income threshold we’ve discussed previously of over $96,000 for a family of four means that schools will be incentivized to accept wealthier students that may reflect the current student body. That is, the program can and would be used to subsidize private school tuition for families who can already afford and are already paying for private school tuition. And, with no means-tested mechanism within the bill, families making twice the annual median income in Kentucky could get a free ride.

The bill does not require marketing to low-income families. This means that private schools or other vendors looking to sell their services to families would likely continue marketing in their current geographical and socioeconomic areas. It does not specify that the program must be marketed equally to a family living at 20th and Broadway and to family living off Westport and Hurstbourne.

As with this and all other bills, lawmakers are looking for your feedback. You can always call the LRC Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 and leave your thoughts for your lawmakers, but in this case, the ones who need to hear your voices are those whose committee will hear the bill – House Appropriations and Revenue. To do that, simply call the line and ask to leave a message for all members of that committee.

Other Bills to Add to Your Watch List

HB25: This bill would allow convicted felons to remain eligible to earn KEES scholarship money. It is scheduled for a hearing in the House Education Committee Tuesday morning.

HB89: Intimidation of a sports official would become a Class A misdemeanor if this bill passes. The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill this week and it received its second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives. It is posted for passage by the full House on Tuesday when lawmakers return.

HB133: This week, Representatives Jerry Miller, Jason Nemes, and Felicia Raybourn added their names to this bill as co-sponsors. Rep. Kevin Bratcher filed this bill that would reduce the number of signatures required for a recall petition of a tax levy by a district board of education from 10% of the total number of votes cast in the last preceding presidential election (roughly 35,000 for Jefferson County) to only 100 signatures. JCPS remains opposed to this bill. The state legislature has cut or held education funding flat for several years, meaning local districts have to make up the difference at the local level. This bill hampers districts’ ability to raise local revenue and could cause costly delays in efforts to campaign for needed school funds. Furthermore, this bill unfairly targets public school districts by singling them out from other local government entities. HB133 has been referred to the Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs, of which the sponsor, Rep. Bratcher, is chair.

HB192: This is the Executive Branch budget bill, which includes funding for education. As referenced above, we expect to hear more about the specifics in this bill sometime in the next two weeks.

HB208: COVID relief measures for schools could be considered by the House Education Committee for consideration this week. The bill would allow school districts to grant employees additional emergency leave for COVID-19 reasons and ensure the state funding formula continues to operate under the expanded NTI model. The bill would allow principals to award additional educational enhancement days for students who need to report to college, work, or military before graduation, and direct the Department of Education to seek necessary waivers from the federal government for meal services, testing, and services for students with disabilities.

SB127: Schools would be encouraged to keep two emergency rescue inhalers on site in two different locations if this bill passes. SB127 has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee for consideration.

What’s Next?

Friday is the halfway mark for this 30-day session. Since it takes at least five full days to pass a bill without any time to override it if vetoed, bills will have to move quickly in the coming week in order to make it to final passage by the end of the legislative session. The week ahead features House Education and House Appropriations and Revenue Committees on Tuesday as well as the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. To see the committee schedules, click here. Committees will be available for public streaming on KET’s legislative stream or on the Legislative Research Commission’s YouTube Channel. You can find both links here.

By Abby Piper
February 1, 2021

Kentucky lawmakers have been meeting throughout the last two weeks on the budget, though the meetings have not been televised on KET. It is uncertain how much of the budget process has already occurred, however, we will know by early next week when the General Assembly reconvenes for Part II of the 2021 session.

Here are a few bills to watch:

HB85, HB147, SB81: The Jefferson County Board of Education has been clear for several years on this critical issue; its legislative agenda staunchly supports any efforts to make tobacco and e-tobacco products less available for young people.

HB85 would apply the current vapor products tax on open vaping systems to include taxing of the liquid solution if both components are sold separately. Research is clear that when tobacco-related taxes increase, consumption decreases. (Read this study by the National Institutes of Health to learn more).

HB147 and SB81 would allow local governments to impose additional restrictions or stricter requirements on the use, display, sale, and distribution of tobacco products or vapor products at the local level. Essentially, this means if a city or county wants to make stricter local ordinances above the requirements in state law, they would be allowed to do so.

HB133: Rep. Kevin Bratcher filed this bill that would reduce the number of signatures required for a recall petition of a tax levy by a district board of education from 10% of the total number of votes cast in the last preceding presidential election to 100 signatures. The state legislature has cut or held funding flat for several years, meaning local districts have to make up the difference at the local level. This bill hampers districts’ ability to raise that local revenue and could cause costly delays and efforts to campaign for the need for the revenue. Furthermore, this bill unfairly targets public school districts by singling them out from other local government entities.

HB149, SB25: Over the last two weeks, we have covered the reasons this bill is detrimental to public schools by allowing families making double or more of the median family income to qualify for state subsidized private school scholarships. We also discussed how the bill lacks transparency and accountability. This week, we’ll discuss why the bill would create devastating losses for Kentucky public schools and other vital public services in our communities.

The tax credit proposed in HB149 would be the richest tax break for individuals and corporations in Kentucky law, and it would grow rapidly over time. As the private school tax credit fund increases in size over the next five years, which is essentially guaranteed because the program actually pays some “donors”, the state could lose $205 million in revenue to the General Fund. That number will keep growing.

Tax credits by default reduce general fund revenue to state coffers. As a tax credit, corporations and private donors receive almost a dollar-for-dollar credit against their income tax liability, allowing the amount of the donation to reduce the taxes they would have owed the state. Citizens and corporations can already donate to private schools for student tuition scholarships and receive a deduction for their charitable donation.

In the first year, the voucher will cost $25 million. In the fifth year, the annual lost revenue could be as much as $61 million, and cumulative lost revenue could be as high as $205 million. NOTE: For approximately $100 million the legislature could pay for universal Pre-K for 4-year-olds. It gets worse:

  • Year 10: annual lost revenue of $186 million (cumulative lost revenue could be as high as $831 million.)
  • Year 15: annual lost revenue of $568 million (cumulative $2.7 billion.)
  • Year 20: annual lost revenue of $1.7 billion (cumulative $8.6 billion.)

HB192: This is the Executive Branch budget bill, which includes funding for education. As referenced above, we expect to hear more about the specifics of this bill sometime in the next two weeks.

HB208: House Education Chair Regina Huff is sponsoring this important piece of legislation, which would ensure that school districts can continue operations during the pandemic. The language mirrors much of the original relief bill passed last March, including:

  • Allowing school districts to grant additional emergency leave if needed due to COVID-19
  • Ensuring the state funding formula for school districts continues to operate as intended
  • Allowing districts to continue to operate in NTI until they can safely open
  • Allowing a principal to award additional educational enhancement opportunity days to students who meet their obligations prior to the last day of school. This will allow students needing to report for military service or college athletics to do so if the school calendar extends beyond their date to report for duty
  • Directing the Kentucky Department of Education to seek necessary federal waivers assisting districts in providing meals and serving students with special education needs
  • Allowing the Department to waive state accountability testing if the federal government waives the requirement in federal law

HB258: This pension bill is the most likely to move during the short session, and it is a byproduct of many months of negotiation between the state’s nonprofit education partners and House Republican and former school board member Ed Massey. The bill would create a new tier for new employees, shifting them into a hybrid defined benefit and 401(k)-style defined contribution plan. The plan grandfathers in current and retired employees and does not change their benefits. To see more details, check out the summary document created by the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. You can view it here.

SB5: Senate President Stivers worked during the interim with various education groups to help protect school districts from frivolous lawsuits related to COVID-19. This bill does just that while protecting other nonprofits and agencies as well. It comes with the endorsement of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, the Kentucky School Boards Association, and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

SB77: Whenever a superintendent vacancy occurs, current Kentucky law requires the formation of a screening committee comprised of two teachers, a parent, a principal, a board member, and a classified staff member. If this bill passes, school districts with 50% or more minority student populations would have specific seats allocated for minority membership in each category minus the board of education member. The result would be:

  • Three teachers, one of whom must be a member of a minority group
  • One board of education member
  • Two principals, one of whom must be a member of a minority group
  • Two parents, one of whom must be a member of a minority group; and
  • Two classified employees, one of whom must be a member of a minority group

The JCPS Board of Education has supported this important issue for the last four years, and Senator Julie Raque Adams has done a tremendous job of working to ensure legislators hear about important issues like this. We expect this to receive a hearing in the Senate Education Committee soon.

Coming Up

The legislature released their updated schedule this week, a necessary act given the extended days they took in January to pass priority legislation. The new schedule has lawmakers convening for Day 9 of the 30-day session next Tuesday, February 2. The last day to file any new bills will be February 10 for the Senate and February 11 for the House.

We should expect things to move quickly from now through the end of the month. It would be very difficult, though not impossible, to pass any non-priority bills that have not moved by the week of February 15. Within that time frame of approximately 10 working days from now, we expect to see movement on the budget, veto overrides, second tier priority bills, possible pension reform, bail reform, no-knock warrant legislation, and more. Plus, the Senate will have to approve newly appointed board members, including the appointment of Dr. Randy Poe to the Kentucky Board of Education. That is a lot to do in a very short period of time, particularly since it takes a minimum of five days to pass a bill.

Join us next week for more! Until then, we urge our readers to contact their lawmakers with any concerns they may have related to education. JCPS stands with our families as we continue to advocate for your children.

REMINDER: If you feel passionately about these or any issue, feel free to find your legislator here. You can watch the action live online at You can find contact information here: Legislators - Legislative Research Commission (

By Abby Piper
January 24, 2021

Scholarship Tax Credits 2.0: Education Opportunity Accounts – Week 2

It was a quiet week in Frankfort last week, with no legislative activity or standing committee activity. Lawmakers are in their home districts for the constitutionally required recess until February 2, making this an excellent time to reach out to your lawmakers with thoughts on the issues. You can reach any lawmaker on the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800.372.7181. A little secret – you can leave messages for all lawmakers, for lawmakers on the House and Senate Education Committee, or other caucuses or committees! 

As budget negotiations begin in early February, it is important to know that Section 36 of the Kentucky Constitution requires three-fifths of all members in the House and Senate to pass any bill raising revenue or appropriating funds in odd-numbered year (i.e. 2021) sessions, and that includes the budget. Since this year’s budget process is going to be conducted largely in conference committee, little is known about what the final budget will look like. However, it’s important to know that this year’s move to bring the budget conversations into a smaller conference committee is largely procedural, as there is still ample time for lawmakers to make changes to their final budget.

Last week, we discussed how HB149 does not create true “choice,” as the bill sponsors claim, since families have no way to compare student achievement between public and nonpublic schools. We also discussed how the bill would create a program with no public accountability or way of measuring effectiveness of this costly government program.

This week, we’ll focus on another problematic aspect of the bill - it does not truly target low-income families.

While the bill does say that poorer families would receive a majority of funds in the first year of the program, priority goes to people already in the program the second year and each year after. That means families whose income is growing, or where a parent has gone back to work, can stay in the program and will be awarded dollars first, before any new, poorer families are served. In fact, these diverted public dollars could be spent on tuition and laptops for families of four making an income of $96,940 in the first year and $121,175 in the second year! 

Another well-documented issue is that poor families face barriers to accessing the same options as wealthy families. For example, wealthy families may live in economically better-off communities with more educational options. This comes at the expense of poorer families who may not be accepted into nonpublic schools due to: Inherent biases in enrollment processes;  difficulty in navigating the process to apply for funds and keep track of expenditures due to poor Wi-Fi access;, or discrimination based on religious or sexual orientation, which is allowed in nonpublic school admissions. Further, students with special education needs cost more to serve and may be seen as undesirable to nonpublic schools that are not required to accept students with mild to severe disabilities.

Let’s break down the math.

HB149 and SB25 would allow these grants to go to families making 200% of the Federal Reduced Price Meals Threshold, allowing for increased income of up to 250% of that threshold for those already participating in the credit.

  • The Federal Reduced Price Meals Threshold is calculated at 185% of the Federal Poverty Level ($26,200 for a family of four).
  • The Federal Poverty Rate for a family of four is $26,200. Multiply that by 185% and you’ll see that a family of four making $48,470 is eligible for Reduced Price Meals at school.
  • HB149 and SB25 would set eligibility requirements to receive education grants for families that make up to 200% of the Reduced Price Meals Threshold ($48,470 for a family of four). Multiplying $48,470 by 200% yields $96,940. That means a family of four making 85% more than median income for a Kentucky family of four would be eligible for these government subsidies.
  • HB149 and SB25 allow a family to remain eligible for the money after the first year of participation if they make up to 250% of the Reduced Price Meals threshold. Multiplying $48,470 by 250%, that means a family of four making $121,175 per year could be eligible for state subsidized scholarships to go to private schools (more than double median income).
  • Further, foster care children from wealthy families would also qualify for the program, as there is no income eligibility for foster care students – they are eligible whether their foster family makes $30,000 or $300 million.  

Family Income Levels fo Proposed K.y. s.t.c.s. E.O.A. Eligibility returning applicants over 120,00. e.o.a. eligibility new applicant just under 100,000. Federal Poverty rate about 25,000. reduced price lunch income threshold about 45,000.

Data Source:

We believe most of the 832,000 Kentucky families making less than the state’s annual median income would agree that families making double the annual median income do not need state-sponsored grants to pay for laptops, private school tuition, or other educational supplies for their kids, especially if those dollars are being taken out of their local public school district. 

Instead, we charge our lawmakers to invest that money in accountable programs with proven outcomes, such as early childhood programs and universal preschool, career and technical training for high school and beyond, and job creation that would bring smart investors willing to pay good wages to our state for long-term growth. Handouts for private school tuition does not inch the state closer to these goals.

Stay tuned for next week’s deep dive on how devastating this program could be for state revenue at a time when state lawmakers are saying Kentucky needs to generate revenue, not lose it.

By Abby Piper
January 18, 2021

Week 2 of the 2021 General Assembly is in the books. The House and Senate passed budget bills this week with leaders saying they intend to deliberate on the guts of this year’s budget through the process of concurrence. That means budget discussions will occur in a conference committee with representatives from the two chambers to determine the final version.

Lawmakers have gone home until February 2, leaving seven bills on the Governor’s desk for signature or veto. Lawmakers will continue holding committee meetings during the recess, which are available to watch live online on  Here are some issues to watch:

JCPS-Endorsed SB77 Assigned to Committee

Senator Julie Raque Adams and co-sponsor Senator Gerald Neal have continued to champion this bill that is part of the JCPS legislative agenda. The bill would increase minority representation on screening committees formed when a school district with 50% or more minority student population begins a search for a new superintendent. The bill was assigned to the Senate Education Committee this week. Thank you to both sponsors for their leadership on this issue! You can view the bill here.

Scholarship Tax Credits 2.0: Education Opportunity Accounts

A slew of sponsors were added to the Education Opportunity Accounts bill, HB149, this week as advertised by the bill’s main advocate, EdChoice. JCPS strongly opposes this legislation. But with nearly 30 co-sponsors, some of whom have opposed the bill in the past, the opportunity to stop this legislation is narrowing. There are a number of reasons to oppose the bill, including:

  • The bill does not create accountability for participating schools. Parents do not really have “choice” if they don’t have any data to compare schools.
  • The bill does not target low-income families. Households making $96,940 per year for a family of four would be eligible – that number becomes $121,175 in income in the second year!
  • The bill would mean lost General Fund Revenue, with a potential loss of $205 million over the next five years. This would be the only tax credit in Kentucky to balloon automatically over time.
  • The bill allows discrimination, creates privacy concerns, and could expose families to predatory vendors.

Each week from now through February 5, this blog will focus on one of these issues in more detail. Let’s start off with a deeper look at why the bill actually inhibits choice due to lack of accountability.

HB149 does not provide a mechanism for parents to make an informed choice. Kentucky’s private schools are not required to participate in state accountability measures. That means  there is no way to determine which private schools are performing better or worse than their private or public school peers and, in particular, how well or poorly they are  addressing chronic achievement gaps. Other issues include:

  • Kentucky’s private schools are not subject to open records and open meetings laws and are not subject to financial or operational transparency.
  • The bill does not address student achievement in any way, which indicates that the purpose is not to improve student outcomes. Cherry picking the highest performing students, academically or athletically, would only exacerbate Kentucky’s chronic achievement gap.
  • Account granting organizations could limit the services they provide to allow non-public schools to weed out expensive or “undesirable” students.
  • Account granting organizations could continue funding after a student becomes ineligible (language says they “may” cease funding). This gives organizations an incentive to continue using state funds after a family becomes ineligible for the program, which is most likely to occur when a family’s income threshold increases beyond $121,175/yr. The bill does not prevent Kentucky’s private schools from raising tuition rates for program participants.
  • The bill does not cap the amount of funds a student or family could receive, meaning families who make $90,000 or more per year could have unlimited state tax dollars given to them for private school tuition or other educational supplies that they can already afford.

Stay tuned for next week’s deep dive on how wealthy families could benefit from the program rather than Kentucky’s poorest families!

January Recess

Lawmakers have returned to their home districts for the recess period, where they will collect feedback from their constituents and work on draft bills, alterations to current bills, and work on the budget that will be heard in conference committee in the coming weeks. Some committees may continue to meet in the interim, but none have been announced yet. This is a good time to reach out to your local lawmakers with thoughts and concerns on any piece of legislation that has been filed. You can find your legislator here.

Looking Ahead

Next week’s blog will include another installment on the harmful Education Opportunity Accounts as well as discussions of bills related to vaccinations, COVID-related flexibilities for schools, and increased safeguards related to student use of e-tobacco or vaping products.

Until then, we urge our readers to contact their lawmakers with any concerns they may have related to education. JCPS stands with our families as we continue to advocate for your chldren.

By Abby Piper
January 11, 2021

Leadership announced changes to the session calendar Thursday, allowing lawmakers to work Saturday and Monday through Wednesday of this week. During a typical 30-day session, the legislature would work through Friday and then recess until February 2. Section 42 of the Kentucky Constitution bars the legislature from meeting for regular business on Sundays.

As of last Saturday afternoon, the House and Senate had passed more than half a dozen bills through both chambers, and the majority party’s priority bills are moving quickly through the process. This blog will only focus on HB1, HB10 and SB1 as they apply to public education.

JCPS Supports: SB77

Senator Julie Raque Adams filed a bill this week addressing one of the items on the JCPS legislative agenda relating to superintendent screening committees. This is an important step in ensuring minority voices are at the table in the event of a superintendent vacancy. As a member of leadership, Senator Adams will be critical in helping us move this bill into the spotlight. You can view it here. PLEASE take a moment to thank Senators Adams and Gerald Neal for co-sponsoring this legislation that is important to JCPS.

JCPS Opposes: HB149, SB25

 Identical bills filed in the House and the Senate are a reincarnation of previous bills from 2018, 2019, and 2020 that would give individuals and corporations tax breaks for donating to private school scholarships. This year’s pieces of legislation have been expanded to include services for public school families. However, the bills have four major issues. We will explore these in more detail each week from now through the beginning of February. A summary of JCPS’s issues with the bill are as follows:

  1. The bill does not target low-income families. Households making $96,940 per year for a family of four would be eligible – that number becomes $121,175 in income in the second year, or more than 2.4 times the average income for Kentucky families. 
  2. The bill would result in less revenue for Kentucky’s General Fund, perhaps $205 million less over the next five years. This would be the only tax credit in Kentucky to balloon automatically over time, and will result in millions of dollars of lost revenue that could be used for other important programs. For example, the Kentucky Department of Education estimates that approximately $100 million could pay for half-day Pre-K for 4-year-olds.
  3. The bill does not create accountability for participating schools. Parents do not really have “choice” if they don’t have any data to compare schools. Private schools do not participate in the state accountability system, do not have to comply with Open Meetings and Open Records laws, do not have to show data on disproportionality in disciplinary actions including expulsions, and do not have to serve English Language Learners. They can also cherry pick from among the applicant pool to accept only the highest-performing students and turn away students that may be more difficult to serve.
  4. The bill allows discrimination, creates privacy concerns, and could expose families to predatory vendors. Section 11(4) allows education service providers to discriminate against students and families based on their religion or sexual orientation at a minimum. The bill also prohibits unaccompanied youth from participating in the program. Limited program dollars could be diverted to private companies who might use predatory marketing practices and provide little benefit to families. And, the bill does not require education service providers (ESPs) and account granting organizations (AGOs) to be compliant with the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).


As anticipated, Governor Beshear presented his budget proposal Thursday evening. The bill language became available shortly thereafter. Every Governor’s budget address is an expression of the administration’s hopes and priorities, but the authority for the state budget rests solely in the hands of the legislature. Yet, Beshear’s proposalsets a tone for what the executive branch believes to be important. Some highlights of the Governor’s budget proposal that could impact JCPS:

  • Additional $4 million in School Facilities Construction Commission funds, with $2 million of that going toward additional debt service for school construction bonds and authorizing the commission to make additional offers of assistance totaling $100 million
  • Full funding of the actuarially required contribution to the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System, including the dependent subsidy for retirees under 65 for health insurance
  • Additional $112 million in SEEK, increasing the SEEK per pupil base to $4,040
  • $1,000 salary supplements for teachers and classified school district staff
  • $11 million for textbooks and instructional materials
  • Slight increase to FYRSCs
  • Additional $3.6 million in the Dual Credit Scholarship Program
  • $1 million for the Teacher Scholarship Program and $2.1 million for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

What the budget proposal does NOT include*:

  • Professional Development funds
  • Commonwealth School Improvement Fund
  • Leadership and Mentor Fund
  • Middle School Academic Center
  • Teacher’s Professional Growth Fund
  • Teacher Academies Program
  • Writing Program
  • Kentucky Academy for Equity in Teaching

*Budget language specifies that these areas were cut to pay for the school-based mental health service providers.

Pending what happens in Frankfort this week, the Kentucky House is on track to pass their version of the budget as early as Monday. All budget bills received their first and second readings and were assigned to the Appropriations and Revenue Committee. The Senate could receive the House bill Monday after passage, give it a reading and assign it to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, send it through committee Tuesday (and get second reading on the floor), and then be up for passage on Wednesday. The House’s budget proposal is not yet available, but will likely be posted online Monday.

Priority Bills Related To Education

HB1 would allow business, nonprofits, local governments, churches and school districts to remain open and operational through the COVID-19 pandemic so long as they have and follow an operating plan that adheres to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Details on how the organization will foster safety and social distancing must be included in the plan, and plans must be posted prominently on the main entrance of the organization or business.  

HB10 relates to civil liability during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would apply broadly to business, government agencies, nonprofits, and educational institutions. The section relating to public schools states that a public school official’s good faith decision to open or close school during the COVID-19 pandemic would be protected by qualified immunity.

Finally, SB1 would limit all Governor-declared executive orders and emergency administrated regulations to 30 days and prohibit reissuance of emergencies based on the same reason unless the legislature approves an extension. This applies to public education because school districts are required to follow executive orders that apply to them.

Week Ahead

Expect this week to be very full even though the legislature is only in session through Wednesday. You can always watch the action live at  Please remember that you can call or write to your legislators to express support or opposition to bills that have been filed. You can find all filed bills here and can contact your legislators by calling the Legislative Research Commission’s Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing them here.

By Abby Piper
January 4, 2021

Welcome! We are very excited to launch this blog to keep JCPS families and employees tuned into education policy initiatives occurring in the state capitol. The 2021 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly will take place from January 5 to March 30, 2021. The decisions that are made will have a big impact on JCPS, so understanding the process and the issues is important.

Why are we doing this blog? Why now?

Education policy is a critical component to effectiveness in public education, and as we continue to build our advocacy work with our partners across Louisville and Kentucky, we know that you, the JCPS families and employees, are the ones who are at the center of our work. To that end, we want to keep you engaged in and informed about the state and federal legislative process and how that process impacts education.

What Is JCPS Advocating For?

The district’s legislative policy priorities are set annually by the JCPS Board of Education. It is a public document and a public process, conducted in open meetings of the board. The document that results belongs to the Board of Education and tasks me, as the JCPS staff person responsible for government relations, with advocating for our positions.

This year, the board of education directed us to focus on policy in six areas: school funding, employee pensions, educational equity, testing and accountability, reducing board member burden, and student and staff health. Over the coming weeks and months, we will delve into each of these areas in more detail as we report on bills and other happenings in Frankfort. View the full legislative priorities document passed by the JCPS Board of Education.

Upcoming Landscape for 2021 Legislative Session

The General Assembly must pass a one-year budget for FY 2021-22. Any time the General Assembly is tasked with developing a new budget, it dominates the atmosphere in Frankfort. Of particular importance will be any state-funded the budget’s implications on state COVID-19 relief that may couple with any future federal relief package.

There are several education-related topics likely to be considered during the 2021 General Assembly with funding for schools garnering the most attention. Gubernatorial authority during emergencies, COVID-related education waivers, education opportunity accounts (also known as private school scholarship tax credits), public pensions, and academic achievement and accountability will likely be topics of conversation.

Legislators will be working under strict time constraints – it’s a short, 30-day session spread over three months. Leadership has publicly said that the typical bustling flow of bills heard and passed will be slowed to ensure COVID-19 precautions are taken and that the clock does not run out before passage of the major bills that fund the government. That said, expect to see plenty of conversation around no knock-warrants, bail reform and pretrial release, public infrastructure, and broadband quality and accessibility.

A Brief Update from Washington

On the federal level, Congress passed a $900 billion COVID Relief bill on December 21. The bill includes $54 billion in K-12 aid, $4.1 billion in funds for governors to appropriate to public schools and reimbursement money for school food services. We are analyzing the legislation’s potential impact on JCPS but believe it will result in millions of dollars for the district to cover pandemic related costs.

Important Dates

  • January 5: General Assembly convenes
  • February 5: Last day for bill requests
  • February 13: Last day to file new Senate Bills
  • February 16: Last day to file new House Bills
  • March 15-16: Concurrence days
  • March 17–27: Veto Period
  • March 30, 2021: General Assembly Adjourns until 2022 (Sine Die)