Mount Airy City Schools was recently featured on a state education website about its efforts to incorporate local homeschooled children.
EducationNC.org, which posts education news and information, published an article on two school districts (Mount Airy City and Transylvania County) and homeschooling.
Dr. Kim Morrison, who was promoted to superintendent earlier this month, believes that recruiting homeschooled youths should be a priority.
Morrison told the school board this week that she knows of 90 homeschooled children in the city district. She believes these kids and their parents should know what the school system can offer them.
In fact, the MACS website now has a page dedicated to homeschoolers.
“We believe that a strong homeschool-to-public-school partnership positively impacts all stakeholders,” the site says. “The district will be working to solidify plans that will strengthen these partnerships for students.”
Some school districts have a gruff attitude to homeschooled students and their parents, the EducationNC article explains.
“I would consider the atmosphere in public school to homeschools as being outright hostile,” said one parent.
When a parent decides to keep a child out of public school, then that is one less kid in the head count used by the state to calculate how much tax money each district gets.
The regular attendance, or average daily membership (ADM), is vital to a school’s bottom line. This can lead to some resentment from school officials to homeschoolers.
One parent, named simply Brad, wanted his son to take an SAT test at their local high school, but the school refused. Brad said he offered to pay a fee for the test and pointed out that as a resident, he still pays state taxes to fund schools — even if his son wasn’t using one.
Another parent said she wishes her son could take part in extracurricular activities like clubs or sports, but hasn’t even bothered to phone the school after hearing horror stories from other homeschool parents.
Morrison doesn’t want it to be that way with kids that she referred to once in the school board meeting as “our students.”
She told the website that she wanted each of the four schools to reach out to at least five homeschooled children this year to build relationships with the kids and parents.
Parents who choose to homeschool their children see a benefit there, and Morrison isn’t trying to talk them out of that belief. Instead, she wants to focus on what Mount Airy has to offer that they can’t give at home.
Perhaps a parent is really good at history and English, but struggles with high school-level math. The student could attend MAHS for a math class, or take an online course with the school.
Or the student might want to take chemistry at MAHS because of lab equipment that isn’t available at home.
Mount Airy has the only Mandarin Chinese class available in the area, so that could be an attraction.
And while a student could possibly learn to play the flute at home, the high school offers a full orchestra experience.
AP (advanced placement) classes were also brought up in discussion with parents, Morrison told the board.
As for any additional expense caused by these students, Morrison informed the board that if the kids take at least two courses with the school district, then MACS could claim the students on its ADM for funding purposes.
Not only could these measures and emphasis bring in new homeschooled students, Morrison believes these endeavors could also keep more students enrolled so that they don’t switch to homeschooling.
After the Chinese class came up, one board member asked about the dual-immersion class at Tharrington Primary School.
Because the kindergarten students are being immersed in English and Spanish, Morrison said spots in that class must be on a full-time basis.
The new school web page is at http://www.mtairy.k12.nc.us/apps/pages/homeschoolers/.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.