Home school numbers increasing

PARKERSBURG -The number of Wood County residents seeking to home school their children has been increasing recently. But if parents don’t have the proper qualifications or follow educational guidelines, students will be required to return to the public school system.

Chris Rutherford, attendance director for Wood County Schools, explained the process and qualifications required for parents to home school kids, requiring a high school diploma or GED, as well as maintaining testing standards from institutions such as the Christian Home Schooling Association, Penn Foster (an online high school) or the Iowa basic skills test.

Rutherford said because of the failure to meet some of the requirements, 44 students will be returning to Wood County public school classrooms this fall. He provided board members a report on home and homebound schooling Tuesday.

There are only 252 students approved for home-schooling this year.

For the last three years, the number of home-schooled children has grown, peaking last year at 372 students, he said.

For the 2010-2011 school year the county had 319 students who were home-schooled. In 2011-12 it was 327. For 2012-13 the number jumped to 372 students.

With homebound students, Rutherford said teachers are sent into homes with a “hospital-type” situation or neutral settings where students are missing at least three weeks of school. That number of students has also risen. In 2010-11 it was 27 students. In 2011-12 it was up to 40. For 2012-13 it nearly doubled to 73.

Rutherford said with homebound students most students were out 4-to-6 weeks. In some cases it could be as long as 6-8 months.

There are also a lot of repeats, with students dealing with chronic illnesses, encountering flare ups.

Rutherford was asked if the numbers will continue to rise.

“It’s hard to predict,” he said. He noted the numbers, compared against the county’s 13,000 public school students, is very small.

“If numbers continue to rise we may have to restructure things,” he cautioned.

Rutherford was asked what the cutoff would be and what changes might have to be made.

“I’m not sure yet.”