Kentucky School Choice Roadmap

By: National School Choice Week Team

Last Upated: October 12, 2021

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

If you live in Kentucky and face a K-12 education decision for your child, this post is for you. Where you send your child to school impacts whether they are inspired, happy, and equipped for success (no pressure, right?). You may have more school options than you realize! This post will breakdown the five types of schools available to you in Kentucky, as well as provide additional education resources. 

In Kentucky, you can choose from traditional public schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and learning pods.

Looking for special education options? You can learn what special education services are available in Kentucky at the Ultimate Guide to Special Education.

Search for Schools Near Me

Thank you for using our school finder tool. This new tool allows families to search for in-person public, charter, magnet, and private schools and learning environments. To identify online schools in your state, please visit our Ultimate Guide to Online School. To learn more about your state’s homeschooling laws, please visit our Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. This tool was developed by National School Choice Week, with data provided in partnership with Public School Review and Private School Review. For more information about this tool please visit our Schools Near Me Frequently Asked Questions page. Gracias por usar nuestra herramienta de búsqueda de escuelas. Esta nueva herramienta le permitirá encontrar escuelas presenciales tradicionales públicas, charter, magnet y privadas y lugares de aprendizaje. Para identificar escuelas en línea en su estado, visite nuestra Guía de Escuelas En Línea. Para obtener más información sobre las leyes de educación desde el hogar en su estado, visite nuestra Guía para la Educación en el Hogar. Esta herramienta fue desarrollada por la Semana Nacional de Opciones Escolares, en asociación y con datos proporcionados por Public School Review y Private School Review. Para obtener más información sobre esta herramienta, visite nuestra página de preguntas frecuentes sobre escuelas cercanas.
Traditional public schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public charter schools do not charge tuition. They are usually managed by nonprofit organizations and do not require students to pass tests to enroll.
Public magnet schools do not charge tuition. They are managed by school districts and focus on themes, such as math, science, technology, and the arts.
Private schools charge tuition, but scholarships are often available via state programs or by individual schools. Private schools are privately managed and can be faith-based or secular.

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      Kentucky Traditional Public Schools

      Most children in Kentucky (and in America) attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by taxpayers like you. On average, Kentucky spends $11,291 per public school student each year

      Kentucky has restricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that in many cases you can choose to send your child to a public school in your district other than the one you have been assigned. In some cases, you may be able to choose a public school in another district.

      If this is the case for you, you can take advantage of this option by visiting multiple public schools near you and discovering which is the best fit for your family. Traditional public schools aren’t all the same: They may differ in learning methods and one may just “feel different” than another to you. If you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your local district to learn more. 

      Find out more about public schools in your state here: Kentucky’s Department of Education.

      Kentucky Charter Schools

      In 2017, Kentucky became the 44th state in the country to allow charter schools. However, no charter schools have opened in Kentucky so far due to the fact that permanent funding has not yet been approved. Charters are not yet a viable option for Kentucky families, but may be in the future! 

      Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that have the freedom to innovate while being held accountable for student achievement. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance.

      You can learn more at the Kentucky Public Charter Schools Association.

      Kentucky Magnet Schools

      Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to focus on specific themes, like science or the performing arts. Kentucky has a variety of magnet schools and programs spread throughout the state, including several in Fayette County Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Schools. Fayette County Public Schools, for instance, describes how it has magnet schools with these focuses: “Biomedical sciences (Frederick Douglass High School); International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (Tates Creek High School); traditional programs (LTMS); individually prescribed education (Dixie); Spanish immersion (Maxwell and Bryan Station middle and high); science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM Academy and Rise STEM Academy for Girls); and curriculum taught through the lens of African-American history and culture (Carter G. Woodson academies).”

      Kentucky Private Schools

      Families in Kentucky can also consider private schools, nonpublic schools that charge tuition. Private schools may offer a unique curriculum, smaller class sizes, or a faith-based tradition. Kentucky’s more than 360 private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs.The average tuition for private schools in the state is $4,505 for elementary schools and $9,189 for high schools.

      In 2021, Kentucky created a unique private school choice program. Through it, low-income families would be eligible for flexible funding to use at a public or private schools of their choosing. This program, the nation’s first education savings account program funded by tax-credit donations, was ruled unconstitutional in fall 2021. The decision is currently being appealed.

      If enacted, only Kentucky families in counties with populations over 90,000 would be able to use the program for private school tuition. These counties include Jefferson, Fayette, Kenton, Boone, Campbell, Hardin, Daviess and Warren counties. 

      Learn more at EdChoice KY, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, and Private School Review: Kentucky.

      Kentucky Online Learning

      Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. While many states have free, full-time virtual school available, Kentucky does not yet have such an option. However, part-time or full-time courses may be available at a cost via BAVEL, The Corbin School of Innovation, or JCPS eSchool. In some cases, schools may cover costs for a student’s online courses. More information on these paid options is available on the KY Department of Education website

      There are also some private, full-time online schools that are available for a fee in all 50 states, such as George Washington University Online High SchoolThe Keystone School, and K12 International Academy.

      Kentucky Homeschooling

      Homeschooling is another school option; it is the process of parents educating students at home. Families in all 50 states can homeschool. As technology and school choices have spread in Kentucky, homeschooling is an increasingly popular choice with more support than ever.

      In Kentucky, notice of your intent to homeschool is required annually within two weeks of the school year beginning or ten days prior to starting if you are starting mid-year. It is recommended that you formally withdraw from your public school so your student is not marked truant. In the case that you decide to return to public school in the middle of the school year, check with your school to see what their protocols are for assessment and placement as they vary by school.

      Homeschool parents are required to report basic information such as names and ages of students, but local school districts are never allowed to demand information that is not legally required

      You can find a great how-to about homeschooling in Kentucky.  You may also wish to check out Christian Home Educators of Kentucky

      Kentucky Learning Pods

      Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize.  Pods themselves can take a variety of legal forms, but in general we can separate them into two categories: self-directed pod (homeschool, homeschool collaborative, or micro-school) and learning support pod. It’s important to understand what kind of pod you are signing up for and the requirements that go along with it.  Learn more about learning pods.

      Self-Directed Pods:

      If your learning pod or micro-school is choosing its own curriculum and each family is directing their own children’s schooling, it likely qualifies as a homeschool in Kansas. Read more about the requirements for homeschooling and get tips from HSLDA here.

      If your learning pod contains more than two families and will have teachers leading unique classes just for your school, it may qualify as a private school. You can read more about what Kansas classifies as a private school, how they’re regulated, and how to start one.

      Learning Support Pods:

      If your child is going to be enrolled in remote learning through your local public school and supervised by an adult in your learning pod, you do not need to register as a homeschool or private school. Keep in mind that you have multiple online learning options, including enrolling your child in a private, full-time online school for a fee. You can learn more here.

      Education Resources for Kentucky Parents

      For additional information about school choices in Kentucky, visit these resources: 

      School Choice Celebrations in Kentucky

      National School Choice Week 2022 will take place January 23 – 29, 2022. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Check out ideas, inspiration, and more information

      Kentucky celebrated National School Choice Week 2021 with 576 virtual events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Kentucky.

      Visit State Page


      Explore School Choice. Get a free School Choice Snapshot for your state.

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