Boyle school board approves do-over year for students, tentative budget

The Boyle County Schools board of education on May 20 unanimously approved requests from students to have an additional year of school due to the strain the COVID-19 pandemic put on the 2020-2021 year. This is pursuant to Senate Bill 128, which outlines the Supplemental School Year Program. The board also approved a tentative budget for the 2021-2022 academic year, which will be finalized in September.

SB 128

Steve Karsner, chief academic officer, explained that families had until May 1 to notify the district if they wanted their student to use SB 128 to repeat their grade level.

“Each school council has created a plan for any students repeating due to SB 128,” Karsner said in an email. “Each school’s plan, with guidance from K(entucky) D(epartment of) E(ducation), will have student repeat the same grade level and courses to the extent possible. Going forward, students will be reclassified with the grade level they will be in during the 2021-22 school year.”

This is only for students who made the request, and there will be no more requests taken, he said.

In the district, 50 students requested a do-over year, most from the middle and high schools.

“Parents that had questions about SB 128 were encouraged to speak with school principals about any questions they may have had regarding the impact for their student,” Karsner said.

The decision to have their children retake a year “was unique to each family,” he said.

Guidance for schools and districts provided by the KDE noted that “students should understand that by utilizing the SB 128 supplemental year, their graduation most likely will be delayed due to postponing progress toward necessary minimum state and local graduation requirements.”

Additionally, according to the guidance, ESSER II, or Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II, funds “may be used for students retaking or supplementing courses or grades pursuant to SB 128.”

Karsner explained what things will look like for the district going forward.

“We will reassign each student to their new class and adjust staffing within the schools as needed,” Karsner said. “Seniors are the exception. They will graduate with their current class and receive their diploma if they are in good standing.”

Tentative budget

The tentative budget for 2021-2022 approved during the meeting shows an approximately $498,138 increase in the general fund budget, compared to 2020-2021’s. The total tentative budget general fund is $34,738,082.76, up from $34,239,944.62 in 2020-2021.

“We budgeted for educational recovery at each school,” said David Morris, chief financial officer, in an email. “This allows the schools to address the gaps in student learning.”

He said the amount budgeted for educational recovery is $635,657. There is also a 2% pay raise for staff included, and a Classified Employees Retirement System contribution rate of 26.95%, up from the previous rate of 24.06%.

Additionally, “The preliminary virtual school allocation is $200,000,” he said. “We have factored in some expenses that we know will come out of ESSER funding. Many of the safety initiatives that were instituted to return to in person learning will continue and those excess expenses were not budgeted in our general fund. We will use ESSER funding to continue those measures.”

The 2% salary increase was approved back in April. The budget also includes $313,656 for three school buses. As for the $200,000 allocation for the virtual school option, Morris said this “was developed as a proactive way to address remote learning if needed.”

“Our instructional team is currently reviewing our remote learning experience from 2020-2021 and developing a plan to address learning in a virtual model if needed,” he said. “The components that may be reflected in the working budget would be potential personnel and technology to deliver a rigorous virtual curriculum. The allocation is preliminary and subject to change before the working budget.”

Morris said the finalized working budget will be approved in September, and there will be more changes between the tentative and working budgets than in previous years.

“This is a function of receiving ESSER money that may be applied to student learning loss, direct services to students and operational expenses,” he said. “After final approval from the Kentucky Department of education the budget will be amended to reflect the ESSER contribution to the initiatives we have established.”

About the ESSER funds, he later said, “Our main focus in allocating ESSER funding will be closing the gap for any learning loss that may have occurred during the pandemic and bringing back our students in a safe and rigorous learning environment. We plan on using our safety plan established during the pandemic to accomplish our goals. We received an initial ESSER allocation that allowed us to provide increased safety initiatives in 2020-2021 and we anticipate those initiatives will continue into the next academic year.”

In other business, the board:

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the board and the city of Perryville for police presence and security for Perryville Elementary School for 2021-2022, in the amount of $6,000.

• Decided to reject bids for surplus district items so it can instead donate them to state agencies or school districts, or dispose of them.