By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
The Lambton-Kent District School Board is remaining hopeful home schoolers will return to the provincially supported education system.
Without the students, home-schooled kids could cost the board up to $2.5 million in lost revenue.
“We feel really good about where we’ve landed at elementary in terms of what we budgeted. We’re a little concerned at secondary, that we might be as much as 200 students below where we budgeted,” said John Howitt, director of education for the Lambton Kent District School Board (LKDSB).
Ontario’s average per-pupil funding amount has reached $12,525. Students in the virtual school are not to be confused with home-schooled kids, as the former still fall under the support of LKDSB and would therefore be counted in the monetary allocation.
“We have seen an increase in homeschooling between two and three times more homeschooling than we normally have. All of that being said, we are having families coming back to us on a regular basis.”
Howitt said this is not a Lambton-Kent only scenario. Ontario’s Ministry of Education is going to be faced with a significant increase in homeschooling across the province, which is a major loss of revenue for school boards.
“And they’re going to have to address that, because we’ve been increasing the number of teachers, as directed by the Ministry, at the same time, to provide two modes of learning.”
LKDSB is already seeing parents of Kindergarten-aged children enrolling their children into school when previously they held off, according to Howitt.
As a response, LKDSB is putting a pause on their pupil accommodation report. Instead a report will be presented to the board in mid-December with an average taken from the Oct. 5 and Dec. 8 student counts.
Students are already getting their “mid-term marks” under the new school system.
Under the new quadmester (four term) one-class-a-day approach, secondary students have already reached the halfway point for two of their credit courses.
“There won’t be a report. But there will be a mark shared with the students so that they know where they are in their education. And that will be communicated to parents as well,” Howitt said.
At the end of the quadmester, students will also be given their final mark. However, they won’t be getting their physical report card until the completion of the traditional first semester after four courses.
On a positive note, LKDSB reached an agreement with both its medical officers of health to resume musical courses for students. Instruments will be played outside and students will wear a special mask designed to go over the trumpet, saxophone or clarinet while playing.