New program allows homeschoolers to enroll in Elkin City Schools part-time

By Wendy Byerly Wood - wbyerly-wood@elkintribune.com

The number of students enrolled in homeschool in North Carolina continued to increase for the 2017-18 school year, and officials with Elkin City Schools are inviting those students to enroll on a part-time basis to help meet their curriculum needs.

The homeschool opportunities with Elkin City Schools are geared for those students in seventh through 12th grades, according to a brochure the school system has produced. The goal is to allow “homeschool students to take advantage of courses offered on [Elkin’s] campuses to increase opportunities for academic and social involvement.”

During the 2017-18 school year, there were 1,261 students enrolled in 881 homeschool programs in Surry County. In Yadkin, there were 582 students in 358 homeschools, and Wilkes County had 1,342 students in 893 homeschools. Those numbers are part of the 2018 North Carolina Home School Statistical Summary published in July by the state.

With Elkin’s 2018-19 school year beginning Aug. 27, Dr. Myra Cox, superintendent, said, “Ideally, the students would be enrolled prior to the first day of school and actively participate from day one.”

At the middle-school level, courses are year-long, so those students would only need to enroll at the beginning of the school year. For the high school, it operates with different courses given in two semesters, so students enrolling would select their classes each semester. “Pre-enrollment prior to each semester is optimal for the students and staff,” Cox said of the high school, with semesters beginning Aug. 27 and Jan. 23, 2019.

As far as cost, she said, “There is no cost to enroll. The courses are offered free of charge.” But there is a tuition fee for those students not living in the Elkin City Schools district. Those who are out of state or out of Surry County will pay a tuition of $300 per year, while those in Surry County but not in Elkin’s school district will have a tuition of $200 per year.

Several benefits for the part-time students are outlined in the brochure which has been developed, including expanded course opportunities; taking courses online, on campus or both; participation in Career and College Promise Courses or Dual Enrollment to earn college credit at no cost; earning a high school diploma from the homeschool and Elkin High School; participation in internship and apprenticeship opportunities; participation in extracurricular organizations such as BETA Club, Future Business Leaders of America and Future Health Professionals; eligibility for additional scholarship opportunities; taking Advanced Placement classes with an instructor; participation in JROTC, band, chorus, art, and Career and Technical Education courses; earning industry credentials; participation in high school or middle school athletics depending on the amount of part-time enrollment a student has.

To be considered a part-time enrolled student, there are four requirements, including being enrolled in a minimum of two courses per semester for high school or 180 minutes daily for middle school; show proof of homeschool enrollment and attendance; provide documentation to meet any enrolled course prerequisites; and follow the Elkin City Schools policies for attendance, behavior, grading and assessment.

Cox said the idea for the unique homeschool enrollment program came from the school system’s Vision Team, which was made up of parents, teachers, students, school and central office administrators, a board member, business leaders and community members. The team’s “job was to help develop the new, five-year strategic plan, titled ‘Innovation for the Future 2023,’” she said.

“Not only do we envision preparing Elkin City Schools’ students for the workforce, we envision preparing all students in our community for a successful future. Therefore, we want to think innovatively about how to make that happen, “Cox said. “We believe in this first step.”

She said she was aware of two other school systems in North Carolina partnering with homeschoolers and their families. Those include Mount Airy City Schools and Transylvania County Schools.

“It is unique to Elkin in the fact we have not presented this opportunity to parents of homeschooled students in the past,” Cox said. “Last year, I sent a questionnaire to parents who chose to homeschool their children to determine why they were not enrolling them in our school system.

“Largely, the results indicated that parents wanted the freedom to instruct their children on religious values and incorporate religion into their daily lessons,” she said. “Certainly, by enrolling them as part-time students in Elkin City, they could continue to enjoy those freedoms; plus, allow their students to socialize with other students their age, potentially participate in our athletic programs, and receive instruction by high qualified personnel in subjects that may be too hard for parents to teach, such as higher levels of math and science, or engage in Career and Technical Education courses.”

Parents or students interested in enrolling part-time or wanting more information should reach out to Elkin High School Principal Joel Hoyle at 336-835-3858 or Elkin Middle School Principal Amanda Burton at 336-835-3175.

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

wbyerly-wood@elkintribune.com