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Kenton County has a wide array of schools ranging from early education centers to postsecondary colleges and technical schools. Figure 1 displays locations of all private and public schools in Kenton County along with their respective school districts. The map reveals that most educational facilities are located within the more populated areas of the county.

The Kentucky Department of Education provides information regarding the performance of each public school district in the state, on an annual basis on the Kentucky Department of Education’s website through the Kentucky School Report Card portal. Rankings for private schools are not compiled by the state.

Kenton County has a wide range of recorded academic achievement across the county. Scores show the county has both high and low performing school districts as determined by the Commonwealth’s standards. Again, this information is important because it can drive everything from where families choose to live to where companies choose to locate. The community should strive to keep high achieving schools in high-ranking percentiles. Concurrently, the region should focus improvement efforts in cultivating better results in school districts that need improvement.


The Ignite Institute is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) fields high school located in Erlanger in Boone County. It is open to students in certain school districts in Boone, Kenton, and Campbell County through an application process. The Ignite Institute opened in August 2019 in a former Toyota quality and production engineering laboratory which was donated by the company after closing its Erlanger headquarters. The Ignite Institute blends traditional classroom learning with hands-on industry related projects. Education at the school incorporates project-based learning including real industry case methodology. Students select a specialization and can obtain an associate degree as well as various certifications along with their high school diplomas. Students are required to participate in an internship in their chosen specialization during their senior year.


Over the last few years there have been several facility replacements, upgrades, additions, and modifications to schools within the county, but no new schools have been added. Improvements across the area focused on renovation of existing facilities and space addition for new classroom and other student facilities. Conversations with each public school district indicated several completed and planned projects. A full list of educational facility improvements since the mid-2010’s can be found in Appendix 1 near the end of this chapter.


Kenton County is also home to several other educational facilities ranging from pre-schools to colleges. Preschools and learning centers, for instance, are usually desired to be close to either a person’s home or place of employment. Good options in these facilities can help make an area more attractive for people to locate. Colleges and other continuing education institutions can also help bring people to an area in addition to being a catalyst for redevelopment and reinvestment. The following subsections describe existing educational facilities in Kenton County.


Recognizing the need for affordable home-based childcare options during the COVID-19 pandemic and the zoning challenges around opening a home-based childcare facility, the Kentucky legislature took steps to streamline and ease the process in 2021. Senate Bill 148, which was adopted on March 30 of 2021, required local governments that have adopted land use regulations pursuant to KRS Chapter 100 to specifically include family childcare homes in the text of its zoning regulations to authorize the board of adjustments to separately consider the applications of proposed family childcare homes for conditional use permits within the residential zones of the planning unit where they are not a fully permitted use pursuant to KRS 100.237. Family Childcare homes are defined as a private home that is the primary residence of an individual who provides full or part-time care day or night for six or fewer children who are not related to or in legal custody of the provider.  

On February 3, 2022, the Kenton County Planning Commission provided a favorable recommendation to proposed text amendments to the individual jurisdictions of Kenton County making necessary revisions to definitions, height, and area standards, and adding family childcare homes as a conditional use in all residential zones. As of early 2023 10 of the 19 jurisdictions that PDS serves have included the definition of family childcare homes and have family childcare as a conditional or permitted use in residential zones. Additional jurisdictions will adopt the new regulations as communities continue to go through the Z21 update process.


As previously described, preschool childcare options will ideally either be located close to the guardian’s home or work. Locating facilities in this manner aids the guardian in ease of child drop-off and helps reduce the need for the guardian to make a lengthy detour during their daily commute. Having residents that live and work all over the area, it is important that adequate facilities are dispersed throughout the county. The rural sub area, however, may be underserved. The current and future needs associated with preschool or daycare facilities should be examined and recommendations for new facilities (if needed) should be made.


Providing residents with high-quality options for continuing education also adds to an area’s overall quality of life. As mentioned in the introduction of this education section, the presence of a highly trained workforce is a major factor that businesses examine when deciding whether to stay in or relocate to an area. Kenton County has two postsecondary facilities located within the county. They are Thomas More University and Gateway Community and Technical College.


Thomas More University is a small, liberal arts college located in Crestview Hills, just south of I-275 along Turkeyfoot Road. The facility is home to nearly 2,000 full and part-time students with 75 percent of those students living off campus in the community. Thomas More offers 42 undergraduate, three graduate programs, accelerated adult programs for working professionals, and online educational opportunities. Thomas More serves as a good example of how academic institutions can have a positive impact on an area’s quality of life. The college itself attracts talented students both from the community and outside the region. Once they have completed their education a vast majority of these students choose to stay in the area, thus contributing to the local economy in several ways.


Gateway Community and Technical College (GCTC) is a part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is comprised of 16 colleges in more than 70 campuses around the state. The college offers daytime, evening and weekend classes and two-year associate degrees for students wishing to complete a degree program. GCTC operates on three campuses around Northern Kentucky, two of which are in Kenton County (Covington and Edgewood).

GCTC’s Kenton County locations facilitate a variety of degree programs and certificates as well as the administrative offices for the college. The Edgewood campus is located on Thomas More Parkway adjacent to St. Elizabeth Medical Center and specializes in healthcare studies. The Urban Metro Campus, located in Covington, includes the Center for Technology, Innovation and Enterprise, Professional Services Center, and the Transportation Technology Center.  An additional campus is located in Boone County which houses most of the industrial and advanced manufacturing programs.

The college opened a new campus in downtown Covington in 2014 which includes space for transportation and logistics, information technology, business, and allied health and nursing. Some of the initial planned buildings have been pared back or relocated to other locations such as Fort Wright as of 2022. In 2022 the Covington campus added a new state-of-the-art welding and advanced manufacturing training lab in the Madison Avenue building as part of an initiative to expand the college’s manufacturing and trade programs as well as offering dual credit and co-op opportunities to students in the River City communities.


Several universities and colleges of varying sizes are located within the broader Cincinnati metro area such as the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Mount St. Joseph University, and Northern Kentucky University and are easily accessible to Kenton County residents. Several other notable universities such as the University of Louisville, Ohio State University, University of Dayton, Miami University, and the University of Kentucky are also located less than two hours from Kenton County. Residents of Kenton County have several other universities and colleges in Kentucky to consider as well such as Morehead State, Murray State, and Berea College. Some Ohio universities including the University of Cincinnati offer tuition reciprocity with Kenton County which allows Kenton County residents to attend the University of Cincinnati at Ohio resident tuition rates.