District looking at homeschool policy change
May 10, 2007
SILVERTHORNE – Summit School District would receive state funding of $3,500 for every homeschool student currently enrolled in one class if they were taking two instead.So, a policy revision requiring them to take the number of classes for part-time funding was brought up – something other school districts throughout the state have done. However, after hearing from a homeschool parent whose family would be affected, the board tabled the policy, asking that school administration officials look into other options to present at the next meeting.Ron Bristol, who has four children currently being homeschooled, attended the school board meeting last week at Summit Education Center.”We’re one of the several dozen homeschooling families and this policy does concern us,” he told the board. He has two children who each take two classes at the high school and therefore meet the requirement that qualifies the school district for the part-time funding. However, when his daughter, who is in fourth grade and plays the violin, wants to join Summit Middle School band, she wouldn’t be able to without taking a second class if this policy passes, Bristol said.Many homeschooled families utilize band or a special class because it is not something they can get at home, but that doesn’t mean they want to take anything else, he added.Some board members discussed the possibility of passing the policy with the exception that those just taking band or choir wouldn’t be held to the hour requirement, particularly since adding an extra child to these classes does not add a direct cost to the district. Others thought it could be looked at on a case by case basis.Board member Jon Kreamelmeyer said the whole idea of the policy change was to generate money for the district. He asked Bristol if there was any kind of incentive that would interest homeschool children in taking more than one class.Bristol agreed that would solve the situation for both sides, but wasn’t sure what kind of incentive would work since each case is different.Out of the 22 homeschool students who take classes with the district, this policy would affect seven of them. If each of those students (that the district currently receives no funding for) took an additional class, it would mean $24,500 for the district, school officials said.However, some families may choose to take no classes instead of having to take two so the school would not necessarily get that amount from the state.”From a homeschooler’s perspective we spend a lot of time, money and energy to education our kids. That saves the state a lot of money … $35,000 a year. … We don’t ask much of the entire system as it is,” Bristol said. Also at last week’s meeting …n Summit Education Center’s alternative and preschool programs took the spotlight. Bill Baker, Summit School District’s alternative programs director who is retiring at the end of the month, recognized 11 students graduating from various programs. Shortly after, they recognized him as well. Students and teachers described Baker as intelligent, compassionate and a champion of education.”If it were not for Bill Baker we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said Rebecca Wilson, director of curriculum and instruction, who is also retiring in June and has been a great supporter of alternative programs. “He is a tremendous leader and he is leaving us in a good place.”n Later in the night, the school board discussed the 2007 election and capital project needs. A facilities committee recently worked to prioritize the wish list of projects that principals first prioritized and then sent to the committee. Security and safety projects were listed as the most important, totaling $6,077,681. The cost for every project on the list is about $30 million – a number with intentionally high project estimates to cover the cost of inflation throughout the next five years, explained Chris Guarino, project manager for ARC who is on the facilities committee.Karen Strakbein, assistant superintendent, informed the board that there is about $2.7 million left in the bond fund from the last mill levy. Board members said the money should be looked at to see if it should to go parts of projects that were downsized originally because of costs or to the recently prioritized safety and security projects.n Also, the school board voted to continue Professional Learning Community Time in the 2007/2008 school year. The initiative was adopted as a pilot program in May 2006, and according to feedback from teachers throughout the district, it has been more than successful.Students are released 50 minutes early on Mondays and stay an extra 10 minutes the other four days a week. Teachers then use the time to work together, discuss curriculum and find the best strategies to help all students learn.Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.