Archive for Thursday, October 27, 2005

District ponders opening activities to home schooled

October 27, 2005

De Soto USD 232 board members are questioning if they would be able to allow home-schooled students to join in school-sponsored activities.

Although no action was taken on the issue in either the De Soto school board meeting or Kansas State High School Activities Association meeting, De Soto board member and KSHSAA board member Don Clark said he was in favor of allowing home-schooled students to participate.

"From a state issue, should school districts allow the home-school students to be able to participate in activities?" Clark asked board members. "Right now, we're just in the initial conversation."

Clark said although he's in favor of participation, the problem is finances.

Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said that while the district receives money for each traditional student, they don't get budget authority for home-schooled students. Another issue, she said, would be finding out how many home-schooled students reside within USD 232 boundaries.

Barb Duerksen, who teaches her two sons at home in De Soto, said some parents may not want their children getting involved in public school activities.

"A lot of families might hesitate at being involved," she said. "Just because once you start benefiting from government money, government rules soon follow."

Duerksen said her sons have found many ways to get involved in extra-curricula activities. They are avid fans of the BEST robotics program and started their own home-school team in Johnson County.

Her 15-year-old son, Nate, is part of the soccer team at Olathe Christian. Duerksen said there's music groups, theater groups and several athletic organizations that allow home-schooled students to get involved. Maranatha Academy also allows students to take up to three hours of courses.

"A lot of homeschoolers have found pretty much anything their kids want to be involved in," she said.

But Duerksen said her family would love to share some of their educational activities with public-school students. She said she's hoping some of the Johnson County schools will show interest in the BEST robotics program, because she said it helps teach skills and enthusiasm to students.

While considering ways to allow home-schooled students to get involved in school activities, Clark said he thought a fee would help the school defray the expenses.

"My opinion is it could be per participant fee, paid by the students themselves," he said.

Board member Sandra Thierer said she wasn't in favor of a fee.

"They already pay a special fee," she said. "It's called taxes."

Thierer said she was in favor of allowing any residents to get involved.

"If they're a resident of our district, we should encourage the home-school person to participate," she said.

Most De Soto board members agreed that home-schooled students and traditional students could benefit from allowing others to participate.

"I was surprised to hear other (KSHSAA) board members throughout the state not supporting it," Clark said. "The issue has been money, as well as what I would refer to as an arrogant attitude that if our schools aren't good enough to attend, why should they participate?"

Clark said some coaches throughout the state were also against home-schooled students participating in sports, because the coaches want to create camaraderie in their athletic teams.

"They feel if the student isn't part of the school day, they're missing out," Clark said.

KSHSAA will make the ultimate determination if home-schooled students can participate in school-sponsored activities. Clark said although there have been discussions about the issue, it's not on this week's KSHSAA agenda.

"We're the association for kids in high school," Clark said. "Not just in our high school."

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