Kentucky Schools Face Staffing, Funding Questions As They Work To Stay In-Person

Sep 1, 2021

State committees on education, health, and local government are meeting ahead of an anticipated special legislative session. The hearing-only meetings are meant to set the stage for action on COVID-19 policy.

Credit Josh James / WUKY

As the newly empowered GOP-led legislature gears up to take on some of the decision-making previously handled by Gov. Andy Beshear, lawmakers are hearing testimony in the areas that could be most affected by their pandemic policies.

A joint education committee heard from Jim Flynn with the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents on Wednesday. Flynn said a key driver nudging districts toward at-home or virtual learning is a lack of staffing, due to quarantines. 

"What I hear from most superintendents, it's the staffing issues that (that are) putting constraints on their ability to operate in-person learning," the official reported. "They don't have enough teachers or bus drivers to be able to have in-person school." 

Flynn recommended the legislature look at strategies that would allow districts shut down individual schools or classes rather than sending everyone home. He also said providing reliable funding streams for districts grappling with fluctuating attendance is also necessary.

"Stabilization of the school funding piece, I think that's foundational to allow districts to continue to operate, particularly on the in-person services component," he said. 

Gov. Beshear has said he plans to call a special session as soon as lawmakers reach a "general consensus" about what can be accomplished – possibly as early as next week.