Guide to School Choice in Kentucky

By: National School Choice Week Team

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, and homeschooling.

Students show off school choice scarves in Kentucky

No time to read it all now? Enter your email address and we’ll send you a cheat sheet that you can print and share.

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 $11,210 per public school student each year

Kentucky has restricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that you may be able to choose to send your child to a public school other than the one you have been assigned. 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. 

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 are allowed 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.

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 several magnet schools spread throughout the state. 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); and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM Academy).” If you live near a magnet school with a theme your child is interested in, this could be a great choice for you. 

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 private schools come in all shapes and forms, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. Unfortunately, there are no state-run scholarship options in Kentucky at present, but private scholarships may be available. Also, effective in 2018, the federal government allows parents to save for K-12 private school tuition using tax-preferred 529 savings accounts.

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. Information on paid options is available here

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

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 2021 will take place January 24 – 30, 2021. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information! 

Kentucky celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 883 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Kentucky.

Visit State Page


No time to read it all now? Enter your email address and we’ll send you a cheat sheet that you can print and share.

Sign-Up for email Updates

"Shining a spotlight on effective educational options for every child"