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Convention 2018: Embrace the Unexpected

School Act Consultations

The Government has decided to not proclaim the Education Act for the 2017-18 school year and will continue to use the School Act as the legislation for education in Alberta. The School Act will be brought before the legislature this fall with specific legislative administrative changes to be debated.

Alberta Education is currently conducting a series of consultation meetings to review specific areas of the School Act. The items that are being consulted on came from discussions through the Minister’s Board tours this past spring and summer as well as further work on Bill 1 and School Fees. AHEA’s attendance at these meetings was not requested, but Assistant Deputy Minister Wendy Boje did meet with AHEA President, Patty Marler to discuss the consultations and the review. ADM Boje indicated that the School Act consult this fall focusses on three areas:

Educational Service Agreements:

The focus is on service agreements between First Nations communities and local public/catholic school boards

Age of Entry:

This discussion focusses on the determining the youngest age at which a student may access funding for education with the idea that a standardized age would provide consistency across the province. (i.e. must be 5 prior to Dec.31/Feb.28/Jan 31) (The Education Act had established a common age of entry)

Age of Access:

This topic reviews the maximum age for providing educational funding to students and how programming is to be implemented for older students. (currently at 19, although funded to age 20, consult is exploring up to the age 21)

It is important to note that AHEA president, Patty Marler, clarified with ADM Boje that the compulsory ages for education will not be changed in the School Act. The School Act defines Compulsory education as being required between the ages of 6 (at September 1) and 16 (younger than 16 on September 1 of the school year).

No educational choice changes to the School Act are to be proposed during this review of the School Act. AHEA advocated for a notification only option for home educators.

It is important to note that AHEA and AHEPS were notified and provided the opportunity to provide input on behalf of home educators relevant to the identified School Act review topics.

Patty Marler

President of AHEA

2017 Standards for Home Education Reimbursement

Alberta Education has released their 2017 Standards for Home Education Reimbursement document. The changes AHEA informed home educator's about on June 17 ( Alberta Education Review of Home Education Reimbursements ) have been made.
Both the document and a summary of significant changes to the document are included on Alberta Education's website. Many of the changes AHEA and home educator's advocated for have been incorporated.
Changes worth noting are:
-50% off music lessons may be reimbursed. This includes private music lessons.
-Musical instrument rental may now be reimbursed (to a max of 50% of parent's funding).
-The complete admissions to recreational activities (such as ski passes or multiuse facilities) may be reimbursed. Family passes are reimbursable if it is less expensive than individual student rates.
-50% of internet services may be reimbursed for the entire year (not just September to June)

You may view the document and the explanation of changes on the Alberta Education website https://education.alberta.ca/home-education-blended-programs/responsibilities/everyone/resources/

Alberta Education Review of Home Education Reimbursements

On June 16, AHEA president, Patty Marler, along with school board associations and another home school advocacy group were invited by Alberta Education to discuss the Standards for Home Education Reimbursement. Alberta Education remained true to their word in reviewing and revisiting the document by the end of the school year.

AHEA initially met with Alberta Education in September, 2016 regarding this document. At that point and in subsequent meetings, we outlined many concerns, concerns which you later confirmed in feedback to Alberta Education. All the work undertaken has had a positive impact!

AHEA is pleased that many of the concerns identified by AHEA and home educators were addressed in a revised draft version of the Standards document. The document continues to be 'a living document' with some of AHEA's recommendations from today's meeting being considered for the 2017/2018 document or the 2018/2019 document.

AHEA advocated for parental decision making in all educational reimbursements. However, due to abuses that have occurred over the years with home education funding reimbursements, the government was clear that guidelines will continue to be implemented.

While both home education advocacy groups did not agree on some of the change items being advocated for, Alberta Education did indicate that they would meet further with AHEA to discuss our suggestions for eligible resources.

AHEA also advocated for the release of this document prior to the start of the school year, as the October 2016 release date caused challenges for both parents and home education administrations. Assistant deputy Minister Boje and Minister Eggen's chief of staff Jeremy Nolais assured AHEA that the document would be finalized and released soon.

Minister Eggen's chief of staff indicated that the finances of all school administrations - not only home education administrations - are being closely scrutinized and reviewed. The Standards for Home Education Reimbursement reflect an outcome of the review of the home education component of education in Alberta.

As always, AHEA's Patty Marler advocated for a notification only option for home educators.

Patty Marler

AHEA President

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