School Board OKs Home School Assistance Program
by Hailey Brown
Oskaloosa, Iowa — Conversation about a Home School Assistance Program (HSAP) continued during the February 14 Oskaloosa School Board meeting as members voted in favor to implement one in the Oskaloosa School District.
Now that it’s been approved, the Oskaloosa School District will begin the process of seeking a qualified instructor to assist and meet with home schooled children in the district whose families choose to participate in the program. There is currently no requirement for the school to provide the program, and there is also no requirement for home school families to participate in the program — meaning it is purely voluntary for all involved.
“We are already providing home school opportunities for our students,” said Oskaloosa Superintendent Russ Reiter, but once the program is implemented, parents who come to the school requesting assistance from HSAP would also be able to enroll their children into programs and activities such as field trips, music and arts programs, as well as math and science clubs, as some examples.
The instructor will be required to have in-person contact with each HSAP student four times per quarter, which will traditionally be at-home visits. By code, one teacher can assist a maximum of 40 kids from 20 families. If more than 20 families wish to participate, the district may need to hire an additional staff member. Due to the nature of the program and non-traditional hours that may be held to make home visits a success, the instructor will be paid based on how many students are enrolled in the program and insurance benefits will be prorated.
“It would have to be outside of the standard or typical certified staff or certified teacher because they’re not going to put in the standard 8 [a.m.] to 4 [p.m.],” said Reiter, stating that the employee would have a “great deal of flexibility” once the program was implemented.
Reiter emphasized that the program is meant to provide opportunities and supplemental guidance when called upon, but will not interfere with or dictate how home school children are educated.
“We’re here to offer assistance, but students don’t have to take it. We’re here to provide opportunities, but parents can say yes or no,” said Reiter.
At the February 14 meeting, Reiter said he hopes to get someone in that position “fairly early” to get the ball rolling as he has already spoken with some families that have shown interest. Once the hiring process has been completed, there will likely be an informational meeting open to the public for those wanting to learn more.
During the February 14 meeting, the Oskaloosa School Board also:
- Herd a presentation and demonstration from the award-winning Robotics Club (Team #4443), who triple-qualified for State and will continue to Iowa City to compete February
- 24-25;Accepted a 2015-2016 audit report from Board Secretary/Treasurer/Business Manager Chad Vink;
- Approved an out-of-state trip for the Oskaloosa Pheasants Forever Chapter to travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the National Pheasant Fest on February 18;
- Approved the 2017-2018 School Calendar after conducting a public hearing;
- Approved 2017-2018 student fees. There will be no increase although this does not include nutrition;
The next meeting will be held February 28 and it will be a work session. Due to spring break, the next regular meeting will be held March 8 in the George Daily Auditorium Board Room. These meeting dates are subject to change based on board member availability, so keep an eye on Oskaloosa News for any rescheduled meeting dates.