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Santa Barbara Home-School Program Taking Shape

The district's program, with about 95 students enrolled so far, offers a menu approach, in which families can customize a child's education.

The Santa Barbara public school system’s new K-12 home-schooling program is beginning to take shape, with about 95 students enrolled so far and several buildings available for optional classes.

Called Home School Santa Barbara, the new program offers parents the opportunity to home-school their children with the aid of the school district’s deep resources. It also gives the district the opportunity to recapture the revenue it loses when people pull their children out of local public schools.

All in all, the district has room for 125 students during the first year, said Pat Morales, a retired principal from the public Peabody Charter School who is spearheading the effort as a district consultant.

Morales said her vision for the Santa Barbara program is less a traditional home-school model — although she said parents can opt for that — and more of a menu approach, in which families can customize the educational structure of their children.

“It’s really like design your own education,” Morales said. “I actually do think it’s the wave of the future.”

Families can use the school’s resources to varying degrees, but must at the very least meet with a mentor teacher once a month to ensure their child is on track.

Meanwhile, the district will provide optional classes for students every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

In the elementary district, those classes will be offered at Monte Vista Elementary School, located in the Hope School District at 730 N. Hope Ave.

On Tuesdays, the classrooms will offer enrichment courses such as art, music and foreign language. Wednesday and Thursdays will focus on social studies and science, with the subject matter changing every eight weeks. The first segment will focus on the inter-relationship between humans and their environment on the Earth.

For students in grades seven through 12, the district will offer classes at several locations. On Tuesday mornings, students can go to Whiz Kidz, a computer center at Turnpike Road and Hollister Avenue in Goleta. There, students will use the technology on hand to research ancient civilizations. On Tuesday afternoons, students can take P.E. or enrichment classes such as creative writing, gardening and cooking at the nearby Page center at 4540 Hollister Ave.

On Wednesdays, courses will be offered at Arroyo Burro Beach. In the morning, classes will focus on geology; in the afternoon, marine biology and life science. The students will assist professional scientists in their research.

On Thursdays, students can head to the Teen Center, at 1235 Chapala St. in Santa Barbara, where they are free to join a book club, take an art class or use the computer lab.

“It’s a free-choice day in a way,” Morales said. “The teachers will be there, of course.” 

The seventh- through 12th-graders also have the option of attending two classes at traditional schools, or receiving college credit by taking courses at Santa Barbara City College. Courses also will be available to take online. 

But there will be some limitations. Santa Barbara Home School students will not be allowed to participate in a traditional high school’s prom, unless they are invited. And they will not be allowed to compete on a local public high school’s athletics team, although the new private Providence High School is allowing the students to try out for its sports teams.

Students need not be from Santa Barbara County to enroll in the home-school program, but, according to state law, must be from a county that borders Santa Barbara County.

Thus far, Santa Barbara Home School includes about 57 elementary students and 38 secondary students, she said.

Nearly three-quarters of the enrollees had not been attending a school in the Santa Barbara School District before now. Most are students who were being home-schooled or attending private schools, or were enrolled at a neighboring public district such as Carpinteria, Montecito, Goleta and Hope, Morales said.

This means the district is recapturing some of the revenue it traditionally has lost from the families who choose to leave the district for private schools, home-schooling or other options.

To learn more, call Morales at 805.896.2634.

Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at [email protected]

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