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By now, most everyone knows about the annual school events that have been canceled, such as proms, graduations, KPREP, in addition to the usual in-person evaluations.  Districts are ending the school year based on when they finish the hourly compiled instructional hours mandated by KDE.  It is perplexing to try to begin to know how districts will pass or fail students based on their participation by time on the internet or how NTI is working for everyone.  We do know one thing- students have missed out on priceless and valuable face-to-face instruction from their talented teachers who are missing their students more than ever.  We sincerely hope the 2020-21 school year is much better. 

For your information, KDE has signed a contract with a search firm, Greenwood/Ashe & Associates Inc., to execute a search for the next Kentucky Commissioner of Education. The contract is effective through June 30, 2020, and was priced at $149,050.00.  They are based in Miramar Beach, Florida.  There is a copy of the contract on the KDE website.  

To show appreciation for Kentucky educators, Eastern Kentucky University is offering a tuition discount for all graduate teacher education programs taken this summer.  EKU has reduced tuition to $395 per credit hour, and you must be an active teacher in the state while enrolled in summer classes. Applications must be received by May 5, 2020 to qualify.  Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) programs are not eligible.  We have not received word of any other institution offering similar discounts, but they are usually all on board with similar special programs.  Check with a corresponding higher education institution in your area for questions. 

Please remember to spread the word regarding our promotion at this time.  New members can join KAPE now, and pay nothing in membership until August or their first pay period, whichever is later. If you know someone who is interested, please share this news with them.  We also offer first year teachers a fantastic one-year price of $50 for a full year's coverage. Our regular membership fees are $200 for a single person, $350 for a married couple, whether or not you are in the same district. Please ask prospective members to go to our website at Kentuckyteachers.org to view our philosophy and to sign up.  Our liability coverage and legal services cannot be surpassed by any other organization.  Due to our possibly not being able to visit schools and districts when they open in August, we will be very limited on getting the word out to new teachers about our phenomenal services.  Help your colleagues save money, and help them protect their career.  If you have college students in your family, they can have liability coverage for student classes for free! If you are interested in passing on this information, we can email an electronic version of a flyer or mail you paper copies to have on hand if school resumes.  Let us know, and help us out.

Call our office at 888-438-7179, email at info@kentuckyteachers.org.  Our offices are not staffed, but the phones are being remotely answered.  Do not hesitate to call us with a problem or question. 

We have been notified through communication from KDE that they are currently developing the different types of leave policies that could be available through SB 177.  When this policy is developed and approved, your administrators and local board will be notified. Do not listen to unauthorized sources giving you misleading information that could jeopardize your job or your pay.  In addition, you do not have to be a member of any union or organization to be eligible for the types of leave that will be approved. Please continue to monitor what your district asks you to do in reporting, delivery of services, and continuation of NTI instruction.  The Governor has not closed any schools, deeming them essential services.  

We hope that everyone is safe and well with as little stress as possible during this COVID pandemic. We understand the worry and concern regarding your students, as well as the worry for your own families, our economic stability, and the harrowing reports coming from large metropolitan areas. Our prayers are with you, our state, and our nation.

Many districts are on spring break during this week, and we have heard numerous reports from those being asked to report back to work in the upcoming days. After spending an entire day in verifying national, state, and local guidelines, talking with legislators and administrators, and attempting to get clarification from KDE (which did not respond to our questions), we can tell you a few facts about being asked to report and to continue delivery of services. We have also done some research on unauthorized sources calling for employees to invoke "emergency leave."

At the federal level, guidelines have been implemented that "emergency leave" can be granted to someone who was exposed to the COVID virus, with a quarantine for 14 days. Anyone who has symptoms of the COVID virus can also be eligible for emergency leave, with isolation implemented.

However, at the state level, the Governor has not set forth any clear guidelines for a threshold mandating "emergency leave." He has mandated that schools are "Essential Services," meaning that school districts are not closed, and that NTI duties and food services are to remain in place. Currently, only your local school board can approve ANY leave for an employee, and your local school board must also set forth guidelines for that approved leave. The same board would also adopt policies regarding whether or not an employee would qualify for being paid during approved leave and the duration of same leave and pay. In addition to setting policy for the district and employees, every school district has been mandated TO CONTINUE TO DELIVER SERVICES TO STUDENTS. In order to continue to deliver mandated services, including special ed, GT, and 504, staff must continue to follow the direction of their administration and board policy until further guidelines are adopted by your local board of education. If you have questions, you must contact your local administration for their guidelines. Do not listen to rumor or conjecture. Follow local policy in order to remain being paid by your district.

There are 172 school districts in Kentucky. We at KAPE have no idea what each district will adopt for approved emergency leave. Boards must meet and decide how they will continue to keep schools delivering services during this pandemic while protecting their employees and administrators. We have verified that many districts are following CDC guidelines in limiting contact with students and families, isolating paperwork, as well as limiting contact within their buildings among employees. Local health departments are guiding districts in their practices.

The Ethics Commission in Frankfort closed the Capitol to non-essential personnel almost a month ago to prevent contact with legislators and staff. ALL lobbyists, visitors, or any other non-essential person were barred from having any type of meeting with legislators or their staff, and KAPE continued to monitor the session from KET CCTV. Yesterday, April 1, a final budget was completed by the General Assembly and will be submitted to the Governor. This final budget keeps SEEK funding at the 2018-19 level, provided no raises to any state employee or teacher, maintains single healthcare coverage for retirees, and estimated that between $160-175 million shortfall would happen in this budget cycle. Furthermore, the General Assembly constructed a budget only for one year in order to have more accurate projections for incoming funds. A second year's budget will be constructed either by special session or during the 2021 session. The Governor now has until April 13 to either veto or sign the budget and all other bills that were passed. On April 14-15, the General Assembly will meet to override any vetoes.

We advise our members to contact your local administrators for truth and information regarding your reporting and district policies. Every administrator we have spoken with has been more than accommodating in explaining their own concerns and expectations. Please have a dialogue within your district with those who are doing their best to deliver essential services. You are more valued than you realize, and we at KAPE certainly value our members immensely. We will be glad to answer questions that we can help with, but if you have questions about your local policy, we urge you to contact your supervisor or administrator.

By now most of you have finished the first week of your NTI or the school calendar.  This is new, uncharted territory with half of the districts in KY As we informed you earlier, each district plans and implements their NTI plans according to what your local board approved.  The plans vary from district to district with most of them following somewhat similar reporting requirements. Teachers in some districts are riding on the bus routes to distribute food, while others are working every day with administrators at schools to keep the technology going.  Others have been able to telecommute from home the entire time. School calendars have been changed to work around spring break. If your district has mandated specific reporting dates or times for you, understand that they have determined vital services require a specific amount of reporting based on the number of students.  Vital services include everything from building maintenance, deep cleaning, food preparation and delivery, special education, 504, and GT delivery of services, technology assistance, central office services, and updating and/or developing NTI plans that previously did not exist. 

As of last Wednesday, March 18, all public school districts in KY had submitted their NTI plans to the state BOE to be approved, which they were.  Currently, legislation is being approved to allow schools unlimited NTI days, as they have been statutorily allowed only 10 days. Other legislation is being worked on to guarantee funding to schools during this crisis. It's a process, and it takes time to get the legislation passed. 

The General Assembly shut down March 13 and 16.  They convened March 17-19, and then adjourned until March 26.  On March 19, the Senate passed their version of the state budget.  The House had previously passed their version. It is now up to legislators in both chambers to hammer out a compromise before they submit it to the Governor by April 2.  The Governor has until April 13 to veto what he will not sign. The GA will then meet again April 14-15 to override any vetoes.

Please understand how our state constitution works.  If the GA adjourned sine die after giving a budget to the Governor at this time, they would lose the power to override any vetoes.  The leadership of both chambers has asked the Governor to allow a special session for them to return to override his vetoes if they adjourn sine die now.  At this time, the Governor has refused to do so.  Therefore, the Legislative leadership has stated that they will not adjourn sine die until the constitutionally required dates.  According to the constitution, the people are directly represented by the Legislature.  The people would lose a final say in the budget process if the Legislature is not given their powers to override the Governor's vetoes.    

If you have comments or opinions for your legislator, please contact them at 800-372-7181 or email them at firstname.lastname@lrc.ky.gov.

There have been numerous questions from across the state regarding their local district's decision in how they are using NTI for the current school closures during the Coronavirus emergency. Here is what districts are deciding upon:

NTI is an instructional option that several school districts across the state have implemented, and it is usually required that districts apply for that opportunity before the school year begins. However, due to the recent declaration of emergency by the Governor, the Department of Education is asking the state Board of Education at their meeting next week to give a blanket waiver to school districts across the state. This has not been approved yet, but it is expected to happen. In addition, the Governor has recommended that staff be permitted to stay home as well, but it is not a mandate. Currently, NTI instruction may be used for only 10 school days.

In order to receive an NTI waiver, the application must first be approved by the district's local board of education. Districts must have included in the application their plans to deliver instruction, as well as how they plan to record student participation. The plans will include how staff will participate and how they will interact with the students. It would be up to each individual district how to plan for their staff, because if staff is not participating in NTI or student interaction, you would have to make those days up per your contract. If staff does participate in daily NTI, those days would count as contractual work days. Again, it is up to each individual district in how the local board of education decides to implement an NTI waiver and continue instruction.

School districts across the state are calling off school attendance in many varied ways. There is no blanket plan across the Commonwealth because your local school district is responsible for their plan. Many districts have no previous plan in place because they have not applied for participation in the 2019-20 year. Therefore, many districts have to get this developed, in writing, and then approved by their local boards before announcing to the public.

We are hoping everyone stays well. We understand this is going to be a tremendous burden for working parents and their childcare arrangements. Be safe!

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