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B.C. slashes home school funding by 21 per cent as of July 1

Home-schooling struggles. (via File photo)

Online schools are scrambling after the province suddenly cut funding by 21 per cent.

Teachers and parents found out Monday afternoon that regular Independent Distributed Learning funding will be slashed effective July 1.

Currently, IDL schools receive 63 per cent of the public rate.

Kate Stein home schools her two teenage children, and says the funding cuts don't make sense.

“Home schooling costs so much less for the government per student,” said Stein, adding the funding cut is money that “is used directly for the curriculum. That allows us the books and resources we need.”

Stein, who lives in the North Okanagan, said home schooling has been a “wonderful option” for her family.

Sheila Wicks works for an independent school, and the Kelowna woman said the sudden cuts have officials scrambling. “For our school it's a $1.2 million cut,” said Wicks. “I'm concerned about my job.”

Because IDL schools have already set their budgets for next year, the reductions mean they have to adjust quickly. “This money that we are supposed to have has already been spent.”

Wicks said the IDL model allows students to go from kindergarten to Grade 12 with the same curriculum as students at a bricks and mortar school.

“This is just like a regular school, but everything is online,” she said, adding students have access to teachers, resources and other programs. “It gives families another option. It is an amazing program.”

A letter from one of the schools outlines the challenges the cuts create.

“As a school leadership team, we will need to make some hard decisions over the coming days regarding the impact on staff and families. However, the reality is this will disrupt our school significantly and will have a financial impact on families,” said the letter.

The letter goes on to state “home-education families still pay out of pocket for their education, including face-to-face Community Connection classes, music lessons, PE activities, curriculum, additional supplies and more. The resource budget only covers so much.”

Wicks questioned the timing of the cuts, noting all students are being home-schooled at the moment because of COVID-19 isolating measures.