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Lawmakers, education leaders gather in Frankfort to discuss COVID-related issues impacting schools

Education group representatives laid out what changes they want lawmakers to make in schools.
Education group representatives laid out what changes they want lawmakers to make in schools.(WKYT)
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:54 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Legislators have been busy holding meetings ahead of a special session the governor is expected to call in the near future.

“I have not talked to a single educator or superintendent whose goal has not been, let’s do whatever it takes to keep us in person in the school building,” Senator Max Wise said.

Education group representatives laid out what changes they want lawmakers to make in schools. First, funding at a time when attendance rates are dropping.

“We need some help in stabilizing that funding so regardless of the attendance rate, our districts can continue to provide in-person services to the students,” said Jim Flynn, executive director for the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.

Second, staffing shortages, including teachers, substitutes, custodians and bus drivers.

“If we could untether some of those constraints that retired staff members both certified and classified could come in and we could kind of invent them to come in and help us,” Flynn said.

He said temporarily lifting obstacles could help increase staff. Some lawmakers noted school staff are overworked.

“We cannot afford to lose a single employee and we are afraid that some folks are going to become so exhausted from all of it together that they’re going to start walking away from the work from the work,” said Eric Kennedy, director of advocacy for the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Kennedy said the number one reason in-person learning is stopped is staff shortages, driven by quarantines.

“If you have a school or school district with 100% of the employees were vaccinated I think you would never have anyone go in quarantine, unless they were actually ill,” Kennedy said.

On the subject of education, many presenters said the very best way to help resolve COVID related issues in schools is for more people to get vaccinated.

Lawmakers said they’re open to discussing additional NTI days. Chairman Wise said superintendents he’s spoken to aren’t interested in an unlimited number of them.

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