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AHEA Convention 2016

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Some good news, but also further financial restrictions coming from Alberta Education

September 28, 2016

Over the past several years, AHEA has been working with home education school authorities to address auditing challenges which had the potential to severely limit the school authority choices home educators would have. Alberta Education's response has been the development of guidelines for resource reimbursement, guidelines which have not yet been made public. In addition, Minister Eggen has decided that no retroactive financial claw backs to any home education supervising authorities will be occurring.

AHEA was invited to meet with individuals from the Ministry and department of Education where the proposed guidelines for financial reimbursement to home educators was revealed. AHEA was told that these financial reimbursement guidelines are to be used for the 2016/2017 school year and should be presented to school authorities within a few weeks. AHEA voiced its concern about the implementation date being immediate, when the school year has already begun. AHEA also pointed out that it is the parent, not Alberta Education who define what the home education of their children should look like.

It is very important to be aware that the freedom and ability to home educate, AHEA's primary focus, has not be affected in any way with this document. It is through the efforts of AHEA and its members, that administrators who specialize in home education have been protected from potentially detrimental financial claw backs. The new guidelines do place limits on which resources are eligible for financial reimbursement, some of which were questioned by AHEA and which will likely be argued as being reasonable home education program expenses by both parents and home education administrators. However, in terms of a parent's freedom and ability to home educate, there is no negative implications as a result of these guidelines.

While staff within the Ministry and Department of education supposed the guidelines would be released to supervising administrations within the next couple of weeks, Minister Eggen has yet to determine an exact date.

Alberta Education indicated that the guidelines reflect the requirement for Educational Program Plans, as required in the Home Education Regulation, and resource reimbursement to be connected, a concept they found was sometimes lacking during their recent audits.

Financial resource reimbursement eligibility requirements according to the guidelines include:

-The necessity to have a program plan (as required in the home education notification form)

-All reimbursements are to be related to the program plan, not to the 'school'

-There must be link between the program plan and the educational item purchased

-Receipts are required in order for items to be considered for reimbursement

-Reimbursements are for Grades 1-12 materials only (there will be no penalties for taking post secondary studies, but there will also not be any financial reimbursement for these studies)

In summary, Minister Eggen listened to the concerns of home educators regarding financial clawbacks and has developed guidelines for moving forward, not retroactive. Educational freedoms are not placed in jeopardy by these guidelines, but the eligibility of certain educational resources for reimbursement, and thus a narrow defining of what constitutes home education, is to be implemented for the current 2016-2017 school year.

A more in-depth look at the guidelines will be available in the Fall, 2016 Home Matters magazine.

September 2016 AHEA Update

The AHEA board is pleased to announce that longtime AHEA member and home educating mom Kristine Buchholtz has agreed to serve as the new editor of HOME Matters.

Kristine and her husband have home schooled their five children for the past eighteen years, with their oldest three having moved on to postsecondary studies after having graduated from parent-directed high school programs.
They continue to home educate their two youngest children.

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AHEA would also like to welcome Korien Sampson as our new Executive Assistant.
Many people will recognize Korien as AHEA's Convention Director - a position she still capably holds!

Korien is a veteran Home schooling mom of four children.
She likes to travel, camp and swim. Korien volunteered for AHEA often in the past and has run a successful Home School Convention for AHEA for the past 3 years.

Welcome Kristine and Korien to the AHEA Team!

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AHEA would also like to thank Angeline Bowman for all her work over several years on behalf of the home educators of Alberta. Angeline volunteered under her mother, Winona Bowman, while her mother held several paid positions and Angeline has filled those positions for the past year and half. Thank you, Angeline.
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AHEA is aware that Education Unlimited continues to publish negative and misleading comments about AHEA.
AHEA acknowledges that Education Unlimited has made valuable contributions to home education in Alberta and considers the families of Education Unlimited to be a valuable part of Alberta’s home educating community.
If Education Unlimited wishes to continue to pay AHEA to advertise in our magazine and conference guide, Education Unlimited continues to be welcome to do so in spite of those Education Unlimited comments.
AHEA will continue to advocate for the rights of home educators and parents, as we always have.

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Finally, AHEA continues to monitor several situations involving home education administrations and their relationship with the Alberta government and/or Alberta bureaucrats.
At this point, there is nothing firm to report although we hope some situations will soon be resolved.
Should political action be required from our members, we will communicate with everyone quickly and clearly.
Please stay tuned.

Thank you,
The AHEA Board

Clarification Regarding Education Grants Regulation

From: Education Deputy Minister
Date: Fri, May 27, 2016 at 9:36 AM
Subject: Clarification Regarding Education Grants Regulation

To: Superintendents of Public, Separate and Francophone School Authorities, Charter and Accredited Private Schools

Monitoring by Education staff has revealed that some school authorities operating online or regular programs are reimbursing parents approximately $1,500. I would like to remind schools and school authorities that the Education Grants Regulation clearly states that the education grant must be used only for the purpose for which it was intended. The practice of reimbursing parents for student participation in online or regular programs directs funding away from instructional support for student learning. Under the Education Grants Regulation, grant funding may be recovered if it is not used for its intended purpose.

If your school or school authority has policies and/or practices in place that reimburse parents for student participation in online or regular learning, please revise these policies and/or end these practices effective August 31, 2016.

The only provision that currently permits school authorities to pay families directly is with regard to home education. As per the Home Education Regulation, an associate school authority must offer parents of a home education student not less than 50 per cent of the home education grant for the purchase of instructional materials. The home education grant provided to authorities is $1,670.81, meaning the reimbursement offered should not be less than $835. Parents must provide the associate school authority with receipts to show how this funding was spent, as the purpose of this reimbursement is to defray costs associated with the programs of study, instructional materials or other resources related to the home education program.

Thank you for your co-operation in this matter.

Sincerely,

Curtis Clarke, PhD

Deputy Minister of Education

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