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Measure seeks to protect state aid to Ky. schools

Mar. 15, 2010 @ 08:50 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate voted Monday to inoculate school districts from a potential cut in state aid due to high absenteeism caused by the swine flu outbreak.

A measure that easily cleared the Senate would let school districts choose their highest student attendance averages from the past three years. Those average daily student head count numbers help determine how much state aid flows to each district.

Some districts hit by high student absences last year as the swine flu spread were at risk of losing some state aid.

The proposal passed on a 34-0 vote, and it now goes to the House.

“It provides the school districts the option to be treated as fairly as possible,” said Republican Sen. Ken Winters of Murray, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

The measure is supported by the Kentucky School Boards Association, said Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the group. Without it, some districts could be penalized with a reduction in state aid for keeping schools open during unusually high student absences due to the flu, he said.

The measure would give districts the option of choosing attendance figures either from each of the last two years or from this year, whichever was higher.

“It certainly is not going to affect every district in the state the same way because not all the districts had high levels of absenteeism to the same degree,” Hughes said.

Winters said it will help ensure that districts receive the amount of state aid they deserve, because the calculation would be based in part on attendance in a normal year.

The measure does not seek to give schools a break on instructional days this year due to a series of winter storms that forced classes to be called off in many districts.

Winters predicted that such a bill would likely be considered by lawmakers.