Archive for Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Board looks to increase enrollment

March 29, 2000

The Tonganoxie school board has started discussing ways to increase USD 464 enrollment.

The district's enrollment has dropped by 27 since August, said Richard Erickson, superintendent, and he'd like to see that change.

"We are in a growth area, and we need to be more proactive," Erickson said.

He suggested that the board should work harder to connect with home-schooling programs and the Genesis Christian Academy.

"Maybe we should provide opportunities for them that they cannot do otherwise where they are at," Erickson said. "I think we should look at ways similar to what Basehor has done."

Two years ago, the Basehor-Linwood school district set up a Virtual Charter School (VCS) program, which is a resource for parents in any school district in Kansas who home school their children. Home-schooled children may enroll in the VCS from kindergarten through grade 12 and graduate from an accredited public Kansas school. When a student enrolls with the VCS, the Basehor-Linwood school district puts a computer in the student's home, and the student's family furnishes internet access. For each student enrolled in the VCS, whether he or she lives in the local school district or in a school district clear across the state, the Basehor-Linwood school district receives $3,500 from the state.

If Tonganoxie adopts a similar program, Erickson said that the board would have to consider how the district would provide computers for the home-schooled students.

Another area of potential enrollment growth could be on-line classes. Erickson said he recently received a memo from Greenbush, the Southeast Kansas educational consortium. He said that, according to Greenbush, certain on-line classes could be offered through the public schools.

Computer usage by those students utilizing the classes would be something that would have to be looked into.

If Greenbush's services were used, students would enroll through the public schools to have access to the classes.

Overall, board members expressed concern that home schooling and private schools will continue to affect enrollment. Gepner said that alternatives sometimes have an advantage over the public school system and that it is hard to compete with that. Board members said they would like to offer similar avenues and remain competitive.

"We need to be sure we are competitive," Ron Moore, board member, said.

Erickson was given permission to schedule meetings with parents who home school and with representatives of the Genesis Christian Academy.

"I think we can add to what they have," Gepner said. "I would love their students to be in our school."

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