Kentucky lawmakers introduce dozens of education bills each year. To watch in 2022

How will Kentucky lawmakers affect schools as they grapple with another year of COVID-19 while trying to improve outcomes for children?

Here are the big education bills so far this session, what they mean and how they may affect you.

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Senate Bill 1 (Expanding Superintendent’s Powers)

Sponsor: Senator John Schickel, R-Union

What he does: SB 1 transfers the authority to hire principals and select the curriculum from the school councils of teachers and parents to the district superintendent.

How it may affect you: It will weaken the power of school councils, called SBDM councils, and give it to the superintendent. Because the superintendent reports to locally elected school boards and school boards are accountable to voters, the bill could give voters a bit more power over schools.

Status: Passed in the Senate 25-9, now facing the House.

Senate Bill 25 (More Distance Learning Options)

Sponsor: Senator Max Wise, R-Campbellsville

What he does: SB 25 extends some changes lawmakers made in the fall to help schools continue in-person learning amid COVID-19. The largest provision gives school districts 10 remote education days per school to move schools or individual classrooms online as needed. It cannot be used to close the whole district.

How it may affect you: It may be easier for a school to briefly transition to virtual learning if COVID-19 cases are too high or there aren’t enough teachers. This could help reduce the spread of COVID-19 while making it easier for a student to have a consistent teacher, even if classes are online.

Status: Signed into law.

Search data: How many cases of COVID-19, quarantines are there in your school?

Senate Bill 50 (Education Opportunity Accounts)

Sponsor: Senator Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester

What he does: SB 50 builds on last year’s Education Opportunity Account Act, expanding who is eligible for the program and allowing families in any county to use funds to cover the tuition of private schools.

How it may affect you: If passed and a court ruling finding the underlying program illegal is overturned, about 70 percent of Kentucky families could apply for funding to cover education expenses and private school tuition.

Status: Facing the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

House Bill 305 (education opportunity accounts)

Sponsor: Representative Josh Calloway, R-Irvington

What he does: Like SB 50, HB 305 would expand who is eligible for an education opportunity account and who is able to use the funds to cover private school tuition.

How it may affect you: If Calloway’s version of the measure passes and a court ruling finding the underlying program illegal is overturned, about three-quarters of Kentucky families could apply for an EOA to cover education expenses and tuition fees. private school education.

Status: Awaiting committee assignment.

House Bill 66 (full-day kindergarten)

Sponsor: Representative James Tipton, R-Taylorsville

What he does: Kentucky would start paying for full-day kindergarten, rather than covering half the cost and having local school districts pay the rest. A financial analysis of the bill estimates it will cost an additional $126 million in its first year.

How it may affect you: District leaders said more state-level funding would free up money in their budgets, which would potentially mean more services for students.

Status: Awaiting committee assignment.

House Bill 14 (“Critical Race Theory” in K-12 Schools)

Sponsor: Representative Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas

What he does: HB 14 is one of two bills aimed at eradicating “critical race theory” from Kentucky’s K-12 schools. Fischer’s bill would limit what educators can say about race in their classrooms.

How it may affect you: Education officials fear HB 14 will stifle honest conversations about racism and force teachers to paint rosy pictures of dark times in the country’s history.

Status: Awaiting committee assignment.

Fund: Lawmakers want to limit discussion of systemic racism in Kentucky classrooms

House Bill 18 (“Critical Race Theory” with Higher Education Supplement)

Sponsor: Representative Matt Lockett, R-Nicholasville

What he does: It is the second of two bills aimed at getting rid of “critical race theory” in Kentucky classrooms. It is similar to HB 14, but would apply to both K-12 schools and public colleges and universities.

How it may affect you: As with HB 14, education officials fear this will limit how teachers and, in the case of HB 18, professors, discuss the country’s history and systemic racism.

Status: Awaiting committee assignment.

Related: Educators worry about politics, fear of CRT could hold back teaching about race

House Bill 63 (school policy)

Sponsor: Representative Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville

What he does: Building on the Kentucky School Safety Act of 2019, HB 63 will require all public schools to have at least one armed school policeman stationed on every campus by August.

How it may affect you: The majority of schools in Kentucky do not have an SRO, so your school is likely to have an officer by the 2022-23 school year. This has already raised concerns, ranging from how these positions will be funded, where all officers would come from amid a staffing crisis, and the potential impact on students of color due to racial disparities in the policing and discipline.

Status: In front of the house education committee.

Fund: Louisville Republicans propose requiring police in schools whether there is money or not

House Bill 119 (corporal punishment)

Sponsor: Representative Steve Riley, R-Glasgow

What he does: HB 119 would ban physical discipline in Kentucky schools. Kentucky is one of 19 states that still allow corporal punishment.

How it may affect you: Chances are that’s not the case. Only 15 of Kentucky’s 171 school districts do not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment. For these districts, however, this would end the practice.

Status: Awaiting committee assignment.

Fund: Kentucky Board of Education passes regulations to limit ‘barbaric’ corporal punishment

House Bill 121 (Public Comments at School Board Meetings)

Sponsor: Rep. Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg

What he does: HB 121 would require local school boards to have a public comment period of at least 15 minutes at each regular meeting.

How it may affect you: For Louisville residents, that would mean the return of in-person public comment at JCPS board meetings — giving community members a chance to speak directly to school board members. JCPS has not had in-person public speakers since October, when a match of shouting in the audience during public comment caused the board meeting to adjourn abruptly.

Status: In front of the house education committee.

Related: Arguments, shouting disrupted a JCPS school board meeting – again. What happens now?

House Bill 112 (COVID-19 vaccines)

Sponsor: Representative Shane Baker, R-Somerset

What he does: HB 112 would prohibit requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for children without the consent of all guardians. It would also prevent anyone from retaliating against unvaccinated children, including limiting the activities they can participate in.

How it may affect you: As COVID-19 continues to derail education, education officials may consider adding a COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school. HB 112 could complicate these considerations.

Status: Awaiting committee assignment.

House Bill 44 (Student Mental Health)

Sponsor: Representative Bobby McCool, R-Van Lear

What he does: Under HB 44, school districts should create policies on how to handle student absences due to mental health.

How it may affect you: Students could benefit from mental health days treated the same way schools treat absences for physical health issues.

Status: Passed unanimously in the House, now heading to the Senate.

This story will be updated.

Contact Olivia Krauth at okrauth@courierjournal.com and on Twitter at @oliviakrauth.

This article originally appeared in the Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky Education Bills: What to Know About These 10 Bills

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