A conversation between Mascenic and homeschool parents

  • Members of the Mascenic School District School Board met with home-school parents to discuss how to better communicate and provide resources to them during a Community Conversation on Tuesday. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/17/2018 7:55:45 AM

If you’ve decided to home-school your child, how much access do you still have to resources provided by the school district?

A lot, said Mascenic Superintendent Steve Russell during Tuesday’s Community Conversation between the district and home-school families. And he’d like to make sure that home-school parents are aware of and make use of them.

As part of their ongoing conversation series, the district sent out letters to known home-school parents in New Ipswich and Greenville, inviting them to have a conversation about how the district can better communicate with them about what’s available for their children, even if they’re not enrolled in the district. 

A child who is home schooled in the district still has access to school courses and extracurriculars. They can join the school’s sports teams, and have enrolled in trade programs like the nursing or automotive program, or specials like art classes, and have access to occupational therapies.

Laura Moran of New Ipswich, who home-schools her children, said that when her now-adult son was 6 years old, and needed speech therapy, she was unable to get it through the district without enrolling him. Though Russell assured her that had changed, and now a child not enrolled in the district could get those therapies after assessment, parents may not be aware of those changes.

“I think people still think that’s the case,” she said. “We wanted to home-school, so we found him the help we needed, even though we had to pay for it privately.”

When a parent notifies the district that they will be home schooling their child, the district usually sends a confirming letter which encourages the parent to contact the school’s principal to discuss offerings, but asked home-school parents what the district might do to better communicate with them.

The district does provide a program of studies on the school’s website, said Russell, but the main onus is on the parents to contact the school to discover the available class times and availability. 

“I think that we could do a better job of connecting with you,” said Russell.

The district offered to put interested home-school parents on an e-mailing list that could inform them of upcoming events their children might have interest in participating in, in addition to announcements on the district website. Russell asked if there was a home-school network for the Mascenic district that might have interest in subscribing, or that could be used to disseminate information.

“Only loosely,” said Tina Somero, of New Ipswich, who home schools her children. “There are a couple of different groups.”

There are a lot of misconceptions on both sides, said Russell – from home-school parents towards the public school system and vice versa – and he’d like the opportunity to try to dispel those misconceptions by having an open dialogue, including an offer to come to speak to any home-school groups in the area.

School Board Chair Steve Spratt said he’d like to see more students involved in extra-curriculars and community projects outside of sports, which is the sector that is the biggest draw currently.

“How do we keep community? How do we get them to know each other?” he said.

“I think that there’s no doubt that there’s things we can do,” said Russell.

Community Conversations are an ongoing communication between the school district and its residents. Future conversations will be noticed on the district’s website.

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