Chinook School Division increases school supplies funding for homeschooling families

By Matthew Liebenberg

The new school year will bring some financial relief for families enrolled for home-based education in the Chinook School Division.

Trustees approved a motion at a Chinook Board of Education regular meeting on Aug. 21 to increase the reimbursement fee for educational supplies.

Families will receive an additional $200 due to the increase of the reimbursement amount to $500.

Chinook Director of Education Mark Benesh said after the meeting the school division has heard from families about the high cost of school supplies.

“Our parents who are homeschoolers invest in their children buying supplies and what not,” he mentioned. “And due to several of them reaching out just on the costs that have gone up, the board made the decision to support that and raise the reimbursement to $500 from $300.”

He noted that it is the goal of the school division to provide support to all students, whether they are in the classroom, doing distance learning or being homeschooled.

“Our goal is to support them so that they can be successful,” he said. “And I think supporting these parents meet the needs of those kids was important to the board.”

This board decision specifically addresses the funding provided to support the learning of students enrolled for home-based education.

“This is solely for homeschool parents who have to spend dollars in support of their children by buying supplies, workbooks, things like that,” he explained. “And so this is an acknowledgement that those costs have gone up and we’re trying to support them so they can best support their own kids.”

It is a requirement for this funding that receipts for expenses on educational supplies have to be submitted to the school division.

“The goal is that they submit bills based on the costs that they’ve put in,” he said. “What we’ve found is often parents spend well beyond the $300 or $500, which is why there’s the argument to support them, because it costs more than that.”

Last year’s official enrolment figures indicate that 183 students were registered in home-based education for the 2022-23 school year.

According to Benesh the number of students enrolled in home-based education in the Chinook School Division does not change much from year to year.

“It’s pretty stable,” he said. “The only time it actually increased was when COVID came, and a few more parents made the decision to homeschool at that juncture. But otherwise, the numbers have come back down to what they’ve historically been.”