Update as of April 1/ 16 at 2:00 PM
The Assistant Deputy Minister called me back this afternoon. He is going to check into the issue. He said he would get back to me in the next couple of days with a researched response. I was very impressed with the concern he expressed and that he took the time out of his very busy schedule to return my call. (Thank you) So I will let you know as soon as I have heard any thing.
PS – We have been monitoring Facebook and the various groups. WOW! Is there a ton of misinformation out there! If anyone wants to know how it actually works, please pop down to Phoenix or invite me out for coffee and I will happily sit with you to explain how the money works. Or you can download the Funding Manual from the Alberta Ed website and look for yourself what the public boards get vs what private schools get.
HINT FOR UNDERSTANDING THE FUNDING MANUAL: Only public jurisdictions are BOARDS. Private schools that supervise home education programs are SCHOOL AUTHORITIES (as are public boards). And then there are CONTRACTORS who are not school boards (public jurisdictions) or school authorities (private schools) but rather they contract with a private school and have no legal standing.
Further, if you are enrolled:
- in a school-directed program, you are under the School Act.
- in a school-directed program at a private school, only certain sections of the Act apply. (Only the ones that say school authority)
- in a home education program, you fall under the Home Education Regulations.
To understand what rules apply to you, you need to know:
- who you are registered with (public school board or a private school). If you are working with a contractor, then you need to know which private school they work for because THAT is who you are registered with! AND
- what kind of program you are in: school-directed (online or print-based) OR home education OR blended (combo of the two by subject). Those are the choices. The rest are marketing terms!
If you are registered as a home education student, the Home Education regulation states that the school authority (public or private) must make at least 50% of the grant available to parents for instructional materials and resources.This is done according to the authorities school policies. The current home education grant is $1670.81.(Parents can be reimbursed up to at least $836.00)
If you are enrolled in a school-directed program, the private school authority receives $4675.86. Public authorities get significantly more. (See funding manual) There is no regulation that stipulates that the school must give the parent any money towards resources. Rather the school authority is responsible for providing the educational program. (In home ed, the parent is responsible!)
Authorities have the autonomy to decide how to do that – some supply the program and all the resources, others supply the program but charge for resources and some allow parents to purchase the resources that are indicated on the education plan and then reimburse them. (This can be the easiest and cheapest way – resources are sourced locally and no shipping charges incurred.)
The verbal direction given by one Alberta Education Zone Manager yesterday was that schools ( public or private) would no longer have the autonomy to decide how to supply resources for school-directed programs. (ie. allowing parents to buy resources on or related to the education plan and then the school reimbursing them.) This is what we have asked the department to clarify !
HANG TIGHT EVERYONE! AND DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER!
We have called the Deputy Minister and ADM this morning for clarification on this matter! Until we have something official in writing from the department – it is business as usual!!
Today we met with Alberta Education and confirmed that next year NO SCHOOL in the province of Alberta (whether public, separate or private) can reimburse parents for resources they might buy to enrich a school-directed program which might be online, aligned, distance or print-based.
The Way it Was . . .
Traditionally, schools who offered these programs allowed parents to purchase certain items that the school could not supply- things like access to a gym program, craft supplies and field-trips, all items that children in a brick and mortar classroom would have access to. Parents had to provided receipts and have their purchases approved by their teacher before the school would reimbursed them up to $1500 for these expenses.
According to Adalee Penner, Zone Manager from Alberta Education, schools can no longer do this.
What does this mean for Phoenix Phamilies?
We pulled together our staff and Board to brain-storm this afternoon on how we can change our program to reflect the new restriction from Alberta Education and still offer custom service and resources for students.
We believe we can indeed do this!
We hope to have some new and wonderful program concepts and options ready for you by tomorrow when registration opens. Please feel free to come by and chat. (Open 9AM – 4PM) Thank you for your patience as we re-structure and GROW!
PS – Please keep in mind that we have only had a few hours to start absorbing this information. Stay tuned for updates and further information.
PSS – Don’t panic! This change will not affect most of you! The vast majority of Phoenix Folks already use their entire funding allotment for additional Phoenix classes, programming and services offered through Phoenix!