School officials will more closely monitor home schooling efforts

Posted May 18, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Over the past few years, the number of children being home schooled has risen across the state of Kentucky. This increase is due to many reasons such as more access to home school programs, personal or religious beliefs, and the increase in the public school age from 16 to 18 years of age.

“As the number of home schooled children in our county continues to increase, so does the need for the (school) district to ensure that all children in our county are getting a rigorous and effective education,” according to Director of Pupil Personnel Dr. Julie York.

State law allows for school districts and boards of education to audit local home schools for academic and attendance records. As a result, York mails the annual home school verification packets to home schooled students in Clinton County. This summer, each home school will also be asked to produce attendance records and academic records from the 2015-16 school year.

Clinton County currently has about 85 home schooled students representing about 55 families.

Families who home school are required to send a home school verification letter or form to the superintendent each year. They are also required to keep attendance and academic records verifying that their children are being educated for the minimum term of 1,062 hours and 170 days as stated by Kentucky statute 159.040. Home school instruction is to be taught in the English language and in the subjects of reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, math, science, and civics.

The home school issue was discussed at a board of education work session held a week ago Monday, May 9, with some board members expressing concern as to whether or not all of the students in home school settings are getting the proper academic education they need.

York said basically home schooling is an option for any parent(s) who wish to pull their child out of the public school system and educate them with their own resources, completely independent of the public school system. “It is their Constitutional right,” said York, but added, “it is still the school district’s responsibility to make sure the student is educated.”

York said the number of students being home schooled in the county has risen by about 10 or so over the past few years, which is something of a state trend.

The school board has requested that York, in her position, conduct random audits of home schooled students to assure they are getting the necessary education in the field of academics, attendance, etc.

York said some parents of home school students purchase their own programs while others home school in group settings. She added that the number of students not properly being educated via home school is “very low.”

One minor adverse effect on school districts may be financial, as the state, through SEEK funding, funds districts on a per student basis.

During last week’s work session, Finance Director Mike Reeves estimated the district may lose almost $300,000 in SEEK funding–compared to the approximate number of students in home school as opposed to being in the school system. However, York noted there was something of a misnomer in that the funds that are received from the state are, in turn, spent on students.

York noted that parents are not required to give a reason as to why they choose to home school and said a little over one-half, or about 33 students home schooled, were at the high school age level and by raising the drop-out rate from 16 to 18, many parents were working on getting their child at least a GED. “I think raising the age limit to stay in school will have a more significant impact on the numbers as time goes on,” she said.

She added neither the district nor school officials have encouraged or discouraged parents who choose to home school their child or children.

The following is a copy of the verification letter that will be sent to parents/guardians of home schooled children this summer:

“During the summer, Clinton County home schools will be audited to ensure that all children in Clinton County have access to the best education possible. Below is a list of the requirements to operate a home school in the state of Kentucky. In order to be in compliance with current state law, each home school must meet the minimum requirements listed below.

Parents of children who are home schooled are required to do the following:

1. Notify the DPP in writing within ten days of the beginning of the school year of their intent to home school their children each year they home school. The letter must include the name, age and residence of each child in attendance of the home school. KRS 159.160.

2. Establish an actual school for the children to attend daily.

3. Enroll all children between the ages of 6 and 18 in school. KRS 159.010.

4. Record and maintain academic reports of each student’s progress in all subjects taught at the same intervals as the local schools KRS 159.040. KDE (Kentucky Department of Education) suggests that the person responsible for instruction keep a portfolio that contains samples of the best work done by each child in several areas of study and maintain the portfolio each year the student is home schooled. This may be of assistance in documenting the existence of the home school or the transfer of the child to another educational setting. A record of courses taken and grades received is also necessary.

5. Keep accurate records of pupil attendance. The attendance records can be kept on a notebook, on a computer, or in another manner but must be readily available in case of an inquiry. KRS 159.040. The minimum school term is 1,062 instructional hours and no less than 170 student attendance days.

6. Teach subjects which should include reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, mathematics, science, and civics. KRS 158.080, KRS 156.060. It is the parents’ right to offer additional subjects as well.

7. It is required that all core instruction be offered in the English language.

Anyone with questions or concerns about home schooling or school attendance is welcome to call 606-387-6480 and speak with Clinton County Director of Pupal Personnel (DPP), Dr. Julie York.

Board approves tentative budget during busy meeting Monday night

Although only a 35 minute meeting, the Clinton County Board of Education dealt with a host of agenda items at its regular business meeting held Monday evening, May 16 at the Central Office with five of six board members present.

The board first heard a presentation from Tim Murley with the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) to honor local resident Donovan Hatfield who is currently working on his principal certification as part of the Leading to Learn program.

The grant program, 85 percent funded, trains potential educators who are striving to become school principals. Hatfield was presented with a certification certificate. He had trained at Harvard University and told the board it was a great learning experience, which he hoped to put to use in Clinton County.

The board then approved consent items, including previous meeting minutes, paying claims and bills, approving between meeting disbursements and approving a family medical/maternity leave for Jessica Conner through May 6.

Finance Director Mike Reeves then presented the annual monthly finance report, noting he was pleased with the district’s balance at the end of last month.

Later in the meeting, the board also approved, the tentative 2016-17 fiscal year school budget, in the amount of $14,431,876.70, which Reeves said was slightly higher than the 2015-16 budget. However, he recently told the board at a work session the week prior that the budget was balanced.

Reeves said Monday that “our expenses are well under control and I think we’re going in the right direction moving forward.”

Reeves had even more positive news with the Food Service budget, which is $1,367,000 for the coming year. The finance director said the Food Service was “solvent” and noted it actually would have a surplus of $40,000 to $50,000, compared to a deficit of around $70,000 last year. Reeves and the board commended Food Service Director Georgia Rigney and the entire staff for their work in turning the deficit into a surplus.

The monthly personnel report was brief, with the only announcements being the classified transfer of Amanda Shelton from bus driver to monitor and the Nick Irwin hired as girls’ golf coach at Clinton County Middle School.

In other business, the board:

* Approved April Elizabeth Beaty as Co-Treasurer and approved a bond of Treasurer beginning April 22, continuous until cancelled or a qualified successor is duly appointed.

* Approved First and Farmers National Bank for all School District accounts including all school facility accounts for the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018 at a fixed rate of 0.67 APY. There had been only two bids on the band account depository, the other being Monticello Banking Company.

* Approved 2016-17 year salary schedules for all certified and classified employees, as well as for substitute teachers. Members also approved extended employment and extra increment scales, all with no (funding) changes over the current year.

* Approved pay dates for the 2016-17 school year. Some notes made to the dates include November, when the pay date will be Tuesday, November 22, Friday, December 23, to allow staff to be paid prior to each Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday and in January, the pay date will be a little earlier, Friday, January 27, 2017 to reduce the amount of time between an early December and January pay period.

* Approved to declare an emergency for substitute teachers for the coming years, with qualification being 64 college hours and a minimum 2.5 GPA based on a 4.0 scale.

* Voted to change all cook positions from assigned schools to district-wide and approved revised job descriptions for the following: School Food Service Director I; Food Services Account Clerk; Food Service Manager I; Food Service Assistant II; and Cook/Baker. The changes and updates to the job descriptions had been USDA recommended.

* Voted to approve the STAMP test. This test is a means of verifying competency in foreign language in order to be able to get credit for knowledge learned outside of the classroom.

* Approved an agreement with Forward Edge Associates to continue providing drug testing for students and employees for the 2016-17 school year. There will be some expanded screening at $3 extra per test over last year’s per test amount.

* Approved an agreement with Midway University to place teacher education students in Clinton County schools for student teaching and field experience for the next school year.

* Approved renewal memberships with the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative and the Chamber of Commerce for the 2016-17 year.

* Tabled action until next month on the district’s Certified Evaluation Plan.

* Voted to declare the outdoor fitness equipment at the middle school surplus and give the equipment to Mountain View Park for public use and declared approximate 115 items of technology, which is now considered scrap, as surplus, with the items to be recycled.

* Approved the following trips:

A. A trip for the senior class (Project Graduation) to go to Ralphie’s Fun Center in Glasgow after graduation. The students participating will be bused to and from Glasgow and covered under school district insurance.

B. An overnight trip for the Clinton County High School FCCLA students to attend a Leadership Camp in Hardinsburg June 6-8.

C. A trip for the Migrant Program to Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green on July 25.

Director of Pupil Personnel Julie York then gave the monthly attendance report for the eighth month of school, which ran March 22 through April 24.

Attendance was down by 1.5 percent, standing at 93.15 compared to 94.65 the same month a year ago. York attributed most of the reduction to the flu, which hit the local area late, but noted that so far this month, attendance was up and she would present a final year-end report next month.

The Early Childhood Center had the highest rate of attendance at an even 94 percent while no school showed improved attendance over last year.

Superintendent Charlotte Bernard gave a brief monthly report, noting she had made school site visits, had been working on school testing which has just been completed, and had attended a recent Superintendent’s Summit.

The board’s next work session is scheduled for Thursday, June 9 at 4:30 p.m. with the next business meeting being Monday, June 13 at 5 p.m., both at the Central Office board room and both open to the public.