School districts in Ken­­­tucky were informed Wednesday the state is taking steps to provide unlimited non-traditional instruction days during the 2020-21 school year.

This announcement came in a memorandum submitted by the Ken­tuc­ky De­part­ment of Education In­ter­im Ed­uca­tion Co­mm­­­­iss­ioner Kevin C. Brown and signed by Lt. Gov. and Secretary of the Education and Workforce Cabinet Jacqueline Cole­man.

According to a news release, the memorandum temporarily suspends the statute capping NTI days at 10.

It also indicates Brown will recommend an administrative regulation to KDE providing for unlimited NTI days for the upcoming school year.

This was released the same day as the Healthy at School guidance during Gov. Andy Beshear’s daily press conference.

Currently, the NTI program allows districts who are enrolled up to 10 days per year to help with in-person classes that were canceled due to weather or illness.

School districts began instituting NTI after school closures because of COVID-19 in March and continued through the rest of the year.

According to David Cook, KDE director of innovation and coordinator of the NTI program, every district has now submitted its NTI application after the deadline was extended to June 15.

The memorandum also contains a temporary suspension on statutes which calculate school money based on in-person average daily attendance during the upcoming school year.

This follows extensive feedback from school districts requesting the flexibility to use a blended in-person and NTI instructional approach without risking a loss in funding.

For the 2020-21 school year, districts were allowed to choose whether they wanted to submit their 2018-19 or 2019-20 attendance for Support Education Excellence in Kentucky funding.

Jon Ballard, outgoing Elizabethtown In­de­pen­dent School superintendent, said this change in funding will help to ensure making decisions for students will not be a monetary issue.

“I want to make sure people know that we’ll make our decision based on the health and safety of students and funding won’t be an issue,” Ballard said.

Brown said he recommends this choice should now carry over into the 2020-2021 school year, as well.

“This provides predictability around funding so districts have the flexibility to educate kids regardless of where they are,” Brown said.

SEEK money for the 2021-22 will not be affected by 2020-21 attendance. This will be determined by “participation.”

Student participation is determined if the student is present or when they log into their device under remote learning.

In the memorandum, Brown said he is recommending the Kentucky Board of Education adopt an emergency administrative regulation that sets guidelines for recording student participation during traditional instructional days, NTI days and blended in-person and NTI days.

“These recording guidelines will not only assist districts in more uni­form recording of remote learning, but also will provide transparency to communities regarding student participation throughout a variety of instructional delivery models,” Brown said.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1747 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.

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