Home-schooled stu­dent num­bers sta­ble in Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG mlieben­berg@prairiepos­t.com

There has been no sig­nif­i­cant change in the num­ber of stu­dents en­rolled for home-based ed­u­ca­tion in the Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion.

Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Bob Vavra pre­sented the home-based ed­u­ca­tion sta­tus re­port at a reg­u­lar Chi­nook School Di­vi­sion board meet­ing, Nov. 13.

En­rol­ment for home-based ed­u­ca­tion in the school di­vi­sion has var­ied be­tween a low of 123 and a high of 136 stu­dents dur­ing the last five school years. A to­tal of 131 stu­dents are en­rolled for the 2018-19 school year, which is a slight in­crease over the 126 stu­dents in 2017-18.

There was a small drop in the num­ber of male stu­dents from 63 last year to 61 in the cur­rent year. The num­ber of fe­male stu­dents in­creased about 3.5 per cent from 63 last year to 70 in 2018-19.

Vavra felt it was sig­nif­i­cant that no par­ents pro­vided safety or se­cu­rity as a rea­son for home­based ed­u­ca­tion.

“In the past we've al­ways had a few stu­dents reg­is­tered be­cause their par­ents thought that there were is­sues at school and it was safer to keep them home,” he said. “We ac­tu­ally ask them why they en­rol their kids in home-based ed­u­ca­tion and for the first time we don't have that. So that's a pos­i­tive.”

Fewer par­ents (49) in­di­cated faith as a rea­son for home-based ed­u­ca­tion and most par­ents (82) re­ferred to pro­gram­ming and choice as a mo­ti­va­tion for home­school­ing their child.

“I think that re­flects our so­ci­ety and re­flects the op­por­tu­ni­ties that are out there for kids, not just in a school set­ting, but in a home­school set­ting as well,” he said.

There are 28 new stu­dents in home-based ed­u­ca­tion this year. Nine stu­dents have tran­si­tioned from home­school­ing to reg­u­lar school. This tran­si­tion of­ten hap­pens at the Grade 9 and 10 level, when the stu­dents want to get into the credit sys­tem.

Last year the school di­vi­sion im­ple­mented changes to the com­mu­ni­ca­tion process with par­ents, which used to be done through tra­di­tional mail, and Vavra re­ported that the dig­i­ti­za­tion process has been suc­cess­ful.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with par­ents now takes place mostly through e-mail and only three out of 131 par­ents did not pro­vide their e-mail con­tact de­tails.

“It has worked well for par­ents and for the school di­vi­sion,” he said. “Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion is al­most in­stan­ta­neous now, whereas be­fore it took weeks, and the in­for­ma­tion that we can get out to them is much more vast than it was be­fore. In­for­ma­tion about up­com­ing events in the com­mu­nity and things like that, that we can share that could be very valu­able to home­school­ing.”

The provin­cial leg­is­la­tion for home-based ed­u­ca­tion re­quires that stu­dents be­tween the ages of six and 15 are reg­is­tered with their lo­cal school di­vi­sion or di­rectly with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. Par­ents or guardians have to pro­vide a school di­vi­sion with an ed­u­ca­tional plan in four sub­ject ar­eas – English lan­guage arts, math­e­mat­ics, sci­ence and so­cial stud­ies.

“I think the qual­ity of the ed­u­ca­tion plan is get­ting bet­ter,” he said. “They have to re­port on four key ar­eas, make a plan in four key ar­eas, and par­ents are do­ing a very good job of plan­ning or uti­liz­ing pre­ex­ist­ing cur­ricu­lum to teach their kids, and then they’re do­ing a very good job of cre­at­ing port­fo­lios or yearend re­ports to sum­ma­rize and share back what they’re do­ing.”

Vavra noted that the school di­vi­sion is still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some chal­lenges with the timely sub­mis­sion of doc­u­ments by par­ents, in­clud­ing doc­u­ments for regis­tra­tion, learn­ing plans, in­voices, and the an­nual progress re­port.

“We com­mu­ni­cate fre­quently about our time­lines and more than half of them wouldn't meet our time­lines,” he said.

The school di­vi­sion then has to make re­peated calls to par­ents to get their doc­u­ments in. Nine par­ents did not sub­mit regis­tra­tion doc­u­ments be­fore the Sept. 30 dead­line, and the school di­vi­sion will not get fund­ing from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion for those stu­dents. It means the school di­vi­sion will now be re­spon­si­ble for the re­im­burse­ment fee of up to $300 to those par­ents for ed­u­ca­tional sup­plies.

Vavra made a sug­ges­tion to the board that the school di­vi­sion's pol­icy in this re­gard should be re­viewed.

“I did check with the min­istry and I did check with a cou­ple of di­vi­sions, and the rec­om­men­da­tion from the min­istry was to change our pol­icy,” he said. “We can't do it now prob­a­bly be­cause our pol­icy is in place, but for next year, and we could com­mu­ni­cate this out in what we send out to them in the spring that if they do not meet the dead­lines, that we would not re­mu­ner­ate them for $300 be­cause not only are we not get­ting the fund­ing, now we're giv­ing them money.”

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