Kentucky School Advocate
By Brenna R. Kelly
KSBA staff writer
In a three-day special session of the General Assembly, lawmakers passed a bill that will provide emergency funding to help school districts, local governments and public utilities recover from the devastating floods.
“The bill we passed today takes a substantial first step,” said Sen. President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. “A very substantial first step in rebuilding eastern Kentucky.”
Lawmakers passed the bill Aug. 26 and Gov. Andy Beshear immediately signed it into law.
“This has been one of the greatest examples I’ve seen of non-partisanship, of just simply caring for your fellow human being and living out our shared faith and values,” Beshear said. “We stand united in our purpose to help the people of eastern Kentucky rebuild their lives and their communities.”
Under the bill, $212.7 million in flood relief will go to the 18 counties impacted by the floods, including at least $40 million to replace or renovate public buildings include schools.
School districts will also get another $40 million funneled through the Kentucky Department of Education to help pay for wraparound services and the costs of transporting displaced students. Also included are funds to help cover bond payments or other flood-related expenses.
The relief bill allows districts to waive 15 instructional days and those days would count as part of an employee’s contract. Additional days could be waived for individual schools. Boards can also grant emergency leave to employees if needed.
Districts could also assign groups of students to no more than 20 remote learning days and school boards can change the district’s facility plan to construct or repair buildings without convening a local planning committee.
The bill also includes help for western Kentucky districts impacted by December’s tornadoes. The districts suffered a loss in local tax revenue due to vastly decreased assessments. Affected districts can receive 100 percent of their lost revenue in FY23, 60 percent in FY24 and 33 percent in FY25.
State officials stressed that the bill is just the first step and that more assistance would come when legislators return to Frankfort in January for the regular session.