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Santa Clarita, Sherman Oaks, Lancaster & all of Los Angeles County Homeschool charters

Want to start homeschooling? Don’t know where to start?  There are multiple ways to homeschool in Santa Clarita. A charter school might be the best option for your family if you’re just starting out and feel a bit nervous. Charter schools are public schools operated independently of the local school board, often with a curriculum and educational philosophy different from the other schools in the system.  A charter school could have an independent study program, which assigns a credentialed teacher to work with you in obtaining the educational goals you have for your students. You meet with that teacher every 20 school days (about once a month), provide them with what learning you’ve done for the month and some samples and in return, they provide either free classes to their students or funds to be spent on educational materials or classes, or both, as well as their expertise and advice about how to reach your goals. You can also contact the educational facilitator (EF) during the month, if you have questions or need assistance. They are there to help you and to facilitate the admin between you and the charter school. Some charter schools, like SCVi, are site-based charter schools. They have 2 components to their school. First of all they have a brick-and-mortar school Monday – Friday, which operates different from the local public school because of the teaching methods being used.  SCVi and AEA also have  independent study programs that serve the homeschool community and they have some activities where the students in the regular school interacts with the home study program kids e.g. fieldtrips and at AEA sports.  Each charter school has its own amount of funds per student and exact paperwork requirements, but they are all pretty similar. It normally entails you filling out an attendance chart and some (like Golden Valley) require you to write down one educational activity each day. Others only require an attendance sheet. You also need to supply learning records and samples, explaining what were studied in that learning period. Your EF (educational facilitator) will inform you of the details once you sign up.

Here are some charter schools that serve the Santa Clarita Valley:

Academy of Arts & Sciences

Sage Oak Charter School

Sky Mountain Charter School

Golden Valley Charter School

Gorman Learning Center

CAVA

Mission View Charter School

Santa Clarita Valley International School – SCVi (site-based, but with a home study program portion) http://www.scvcharterschool.org/

iLead Exploration Home Study 

iLead Lancaster Charter School

Inspire Charter School

Excel Academy

Here are some more details for each of the above charter schools:

In Santa Clarita we have so many great options for those who are interested in the charter school option.  Below I will be discussing some similarities and differences between the different schools.  They are listed alphabetically to make it easy to find. All charter schools are similar in one way and that is that they are all public schools.  Therefore, they require you to do STAR testing at the end of the year (in April or May) and some require benchmark testing to show improvement, so they will do an online test at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the year, to see if the student is progressing.  Some also require some Writing samples twice a year.  They all require you to meet with a certified teacher at different intervals (see details below).  Some of the charter schools also offer graduation ceremonies, so if you’re interested in that, find out if the school you’re interested in provides that.

Please note: All amounts below are subject to change because of budget cuts or increases, but these are the amounts at the moment.

Different charter schools:

 

California Virtual Academies – CAVA

At CAVA, students (K-12) receive a computer (that they will need for their studies) and all other materials they need to complete their studies free, but no additional instructional funds. Parents & students meet regularly with an assigned credentialed teacher to make sure the student stays on task.  All instruction is provided on the computer with some hands-on components. It uses the K12 curriculum.  Some locations provide a community day with enrichment activities for children enrolled in CAVA.  Check out the website and see how it all works.

Excel Academy:

Each student receives a stipend that can be spent at approved vendors. The stipend is $2100/per school year per student for K-8th graders and $2700/school year per student for Gr.9-12. The funds do roll over to the second semester if it is not all used, but they prefer and encourage families to use the allotted amounts in each semester. Instructional funds are depreciated from the beginning of a school year  so the amount per student will vary depending on the student’s date of enrollment and parents can find out when they plan to enroll.

Excel is chartered under a San Diego school called Academy of Arts and Sciences and therefore WASC-accredited. They have been expanding and grew from 40 to 700+ students in just 2 years. Their website is very informative and you can read all about their philosophy. One of their educational specialists explained that their recording requirements include 1 sample for each core subject every 20 days when the family meets with their educational specialist teacher and an attendance sheet that is filled out online. The learning log is combined with the attendance sheet, so basically for every day of school they need a sentence or two of what educational activities the students engaged in for the day. She stressed how they really want to keep record keeping at a place where it is not a burden on the parents and interfering with the actual homeschooling.  As with most other charters, parents would meet with their assigned educational specialist every 20 school days.

If you are interested to join Excel,enroll online and get the paperwork ready. You can submit it online, but they also said mailing it in might speed up the process of getting added to their school.

Golden Valley : Each student receives instructional funds and the amount varies from year to year and is based on the age and grade of each student starting at $1100/semester/student to spend on any approved vendor’s goods or services (includes classes & tutoring) How it works:  You apply (and can put a special request for specific ES’s), you get either accepted or put on their waitlist.  If you’re on the waitlist, they call you when they get an opening and you can at that time decide if you want to enroll in the school or not.  Once accepted, you have to sign some forms and you get assigned to a specific ES (educational specialist) who is your supervising teacher.  You will meet with that teacher every 20 school days, which ends up being about once a month.  The teacher meets you at your home or another convenient location and collect samples from each subject and learning records from you as well as an attendance sheet on which you include one educational activity per day. The ES is also available for any questions or concerns you have and in the case of Golden Valley also assists you in requesting library materials. If you do not want to stick with the ES you were assigned to, you can request a different ES. What makes Golden Valley different from the others?  A really big library in Ventura that you can visit in person or online and request materials (which will not be deducted from your funds, except in the case of computers etc. where a portion gets deducted from your funds).  The library has books, audio books, curriculum, games, computer games, hands-on equipment and computers/printers.  Once when I was there, they even had a telescope and an egg incubator! Golden Valley also has an annual spelling bee, some fieldtrips and some training seminars for parents.  It is also WASC-accredited for high school.

Gorman Learning Center: They refer to their teachers as IST (Independent Study Teacher), which is the same as an EF at the other charter schools.  The procedures to enroll are similar to Golden Valley’s. What makes Gorman different?  Gorman offers some instructional funds, but also offers some full days of site-based classes in Newhall where students, enrolled at Gorman, can take some classes for free.  The classes include core classes, like Languages and Math, but also Art, Science, Social Studies, Music & Yearbook.

Hart at Home: Hart at Home does not give any instructional funds to families, but offers many other perks such as students able to participate in sports and on-campus activities, like Science labs and Prom.

Inspire Charter School:  Please read this article about how this awesome new hybrid program works.  They have partnered with Learn Beyond The Book to offer many exciting classes and students get to pick 6 classes of their choice every semester to attend tuition-free.  It also has much reduced record keeping, because a teacher who will come on-site will know students enrolled in Inspire and proctor their year-end tests.  Inspire also recently added their Choice Plus program that gives parents a lot of freedom on how they spend their funding with different vendors and logistically works almost identical to iLead SCVi, Sky Mountain, Sage Oak and other charters, meeting with a credentialed teacher every 20 school days and then providing them with core subject samples as well as learning records of what was done and an attendance record.

Mission View Learning Academy: They supply a limited amount of curriculum choices from which parents choose and the materials are free to the student.  The student meets with a teacher once a week for instruction and exams.  Instructional funds are offered as well, but it is based on a monthly budget.

Opportunities for Learning : This charter school is for Grades 7-12 and the student meets with a teacher from the school twice a week for 1 hour each time.  The rest of the time they do their work at home from books & units supplied free of charge to the student.

SCVi (Santa Clarita Valley International) & sister school iLead Charter School in Lancaster as well as iLead Exploration Independent Homestudy Program:  Each student receives instructional funds based on their grade and different programs have different amounts.  SCVi and iLead Lancaster also offer on-site classes with home study facilitators at their site-based schools.  Here are the amounts for the 2015-2016 school year:

For iLead Exploration: $2,000 annually for TK-8th grade and $2600 for Grades 9-12.

For SCVi and iLead Lancaster:

K-8 : $1,000 per semester ($2,000 annually)

Gr. 9-12 $1,300 per semester ($2,600 annually)

This can be spent on any approved vendor’s goods or services (includes classes & tutoring). How it works:  You apply (and can put a special request for specific EF -educational facilitator), you get either accepted or put on their wait list.  If you’re on the wait list, they call you when they get an opening or when you are given a spot via their lottery system and you can at that time decide if you want to enroll in the school or not.  Once accepted, you have to sign some forms and you get assigned to a specific EF (educational facilitator) who is your supervising teacher.  You will meet with that teacher every 20 school days, which ends up being about once a month.  The teacher meets you at the home study office in Castaic or another convenient location for both and collect samples and learning records from you as well as an attendance sheet on which you include one educational activity per day (it can be typed).  Sometimes they request you send the logs and learning records to them via email and they copy and paste it into a form that you then just have to sign.  The EF is also available for any questions or concerns you have.  If you do not want to stick with the EF you were assigned to, you can request a different EF. What makes SCVi different?  SCVi is also a site-based charter school where kids are there all week like in any regular public school.  Homeschoolers are in the home study program, which is separate from the site-based charter, but the home study students get included in school wide activities like fieldtrips, talent shows, after school enrichment programs, the new after school sports program (with basketball, track and soccer) etc.  SCVi also has a growing library, but it’s not yet as big as Golden Valley’s.  There are also special home study classes offered weekly, e.g. a hands-on Science class or an Art class or regular Math and Language Arts.  These classes have a small fee to the SCVi students.  The classes are different every semester.  SCVi is also WASC-accredited for high school.

Sage Oak: Each student receives instructional funds of $1,000 per semester ($2,000 annually) to spend on any approved vendor’s goods or services (includes classes & tutoring) for K-8 and $1,250 ($2,500 annually) per semester for high school students . How it works:  You apply (and can put a special request for specific ES’s), you get either accepted or put on their waitlist.  If you’re on the waitlist, they call you when they get an opening and you can at that time decide if you want to enroll in the school or not.  Once accepted, you have to sign some forms and you get assigned to a specific ES (educational specialist) who is your supervising teacher.  You will meet with that teacher every 20 school days, which ends up being about once a month.  The teacher meets you at your home or another convenient location and collects samples and learning records from you as well as an attendance sheet.  If you do not want to stick with the ES you were assigned to, you can request a different ES. What makes Sky Mountain different?  Sky Mountain’s attendance sheet does not need to have one educational activity per day filled in, it just has to be marked to show whether the student was present or not. If you have questions or know of any other charter schools that aren’t listed here, feel free to contact me at learnbeyondthebook@gmail.com

Sky Mountain: Each student receives instructional funds of $1,100 ($2,200 annually) per semester to spend on any approved vendor’s goods or services (includes classes & tutoring) for K-8 and $1,350 ($2,700 annually) per semester for high school students . How it works:  You apply (and can put a special request for specific ES’s), you get either accepted or put on their waitlist.  If you’re on the waitlist, they call you when they get an opening and you can at that time decide if you want to enroll in the school or not.  Once accepted, you have to sign some forms and you get assigned to a specific ES (educational specialist) who is your supervising teacher.  You will meet with that teacher every 20 school days, which ends up being about once a month.  The teacher meets you at your home or another convenient location and collects samples and learning records from you as well as an attendance sheet.  If you do not want to stick with the ES you were assigned to, you can request a different ES. What makes Sky Mountain different?  Sky Mountain’s attendance sheet does not need to have one educational activity per day filled in, it just has to be marked to show whether the student was present or not.  Sky Mountain does not pay for high risk vendors, e.g. Gymnastics, Horseback Riding, etc.  Sky Mountain is WASC-accredited for high school.

If you have questions or know of any other charter schools that aren’t listed here, feel free to contact me at learnbeyondthebook@gmail.com

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