Home-school totals inch up

by Tom Coombe -

Ely’s home-school population appears higher than it was last year, but nowhere near as high as it once was.
According to figures compiled by the Ely School District, only 19 children between ages 7-17 are being home-schooled.
That’s up six from last fall, when the district reported a home-school population of 13 within the Ely district. There were 15 students home-schooled in the census taken two years ago.
Even with this year’s increase, the home-school numbers in the Ely area are less than half of what they were a decade ago.
As recently as 2009, the annual census compiled by the district showed that 44 Ely area children received instruction at home instead of at the public school.
In 2011, the total was 34.
School board members noted the differences Monday, harkening back to the day when there were more students being home-schooled in the Ely area.
School officials have kept a close eye on home-school totals for at least a decade, and the district has taken steps to reach out to home-school families in hopes of attracting their children to the Ely campus, boosting overall enrollment and improving the district’s budget picture.
Superintendent Kevin Abrahamson, responding to board questions, indicated that families are required to report to the district if they are home-schooling their children.
The statistics are limited to Ely School District boundaries only and would not include any children home-schooled in Fall Lake Township, which is part of the Two Harbors-based Lake Superior School District.