Fewer kids home-schooled

Numbers in Ely district dip to 17

by Tom Coombe
Once considered a big factor in a decline in student enrollment, home-schooling in Ely now isn’t as prevalent.
The latest numbers compiled by the Ely district show that only 17 children are being home-schooled within the district boundaries.
That’s down from 21 this time last fall and a better than 60 percent drop since 2009, when the home-school census showed a whopping 44 children receiving instruction at home in the district.
School board members have kept an eye on home-school census, which is conducted each fall and was released at Monday’s regular monthly meeting.
Ray Marsnik, the longtime chairman of the Ely board, made note of the decline and pointed back to a decade ago, when home-school numbers were much higher.
Off and on through the years, the district has reached out to home-school families in an effort to attract more children to the district and boost enrollment, which is linked to state funding.
The board has also traditionally had a member serve as a liaison to home-school families, but there has been little formal activity on that front.
Ely does offer home-school families the option to send their children to school for part of the day, and high school principal Megan Anderson told the board that one student who attended part-time in 2018-19 now is a full-time student in Ely.
According to Mary Wognum, superintendent’s assistant for the district, the 17 children now home-schooled in Ely come from 10-to-12 different families.
The home-school census covers children from age 6-17.
Parents who choose to home-school their children are required by law to report to the school district where they live.
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.