How non-public and home schools relate to the school district

By Steve Bruchman,

Community Services Director

New Prague Area Schools

Each year non-public schools (like St. Wenceslaus School and Holy Cross School) and home schools (individual parents instructing one or more of their children at home) are required to register with the school district in which they operate.

A non-public school is usually defined as having five or more students coming together in a set location/building; a home school is usually fewer than five students and located in a residence. The students attending these schools often, but not always, attend public school(s) in their home district after one or more years of education at home or in a non-public school building setting. For example, most students who attend St. Wenceslaus enter the New Prague Area public schools after eighth grade.

Both non-public schooling and home schooling are choices that parents can make for their children. The larger non-public schools are organized much like the public schools that you are familiar with, with much the same schedules, curricula, activities, and classroom settings. The home schools function with one or more parents as the instructors, follow much the same broad curricula, and are required to assess student achievement each year.

Each year I work with both the administration of the non-public schools and with the parents who are educating their children at home. My role is to be the connection and the liaison between them and the public school system, to communicate some information that would assist them in coordinating what they do with the public school system, and to be a resource for them for questions. I also administer the texts, materials, and tests ordering for those non-public and home schools that formally request access to some state aid for these items.

This year there are four non-public schools that have students who live within the boundaries of the New Prague Area Schools attending their programs, a total of 490 students [most in grades K-8]. There are also 35 families who are educating one or more of their children at home, a total of 85 children.

Some things that you may not know about non-public and home schools:

• Many of the students access and participate in community education and summer recreation classes, sports, and activities.

• Both non-public and home school children can take some classes at the public schools. This is called shared time, and state aids to the public schools are pro-rated for the time spent in public school classes. (If a student does not attend a public school for any part of their school day the public school receives no state aid for them.)

• The state provides some limited funding for texts, counseling services and health services to non-public and home schools. These funds are administered through the public school district.

• Both non-public and home school students take various achievement tests. However, they are not required to take the state Basic Standards tests. If, however, their parents want them to be able to earn a diploma from a public high school at some point in their school career they must take these tests and pass them to do so.

• Non-public and home school students may participate in public school sports programs under the same conditions and expectations as public school students at the appropriate grade levels.

With the growth of population in the New Prague and surrounding area we have seen regular but small increases in non-public and home schooled student numbers over the past six years. Home school student counts vary a bit more than the non-public counts, but have generally been in the 75-90 range. Non-public school student numbers have increased slightly the past two years due to increased enrollment and some expansion of facilities.

The New Prague Area Schools and the non-public and home schools have positive collegial and cooperative relationships, and all work toward the best education that we can provide for our students no matter where they are educated.

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