Homeschool program cuts deal with district, will get new contract

Nearly four months after their original contract expired, Mesa Valley Vision Home and Community Program and School District 51 are close to signing a new agreement to keep the district-affiliated homeschool program operational.

The district began a three-year contract with Vision in 2008. The contract ended nearly a year ago but was renewed monthly until the end of February, when it finally expired. District 51 Executive Director of Support Services Melissa Callahan DeVita said the delay had nothing to do with a loss of confidence in the program. The district simply had other concerns to address first, she said, mainly planning for 2012–13 budget adjustments.

Vision Executive Director Susan Scofield said she understood the district’s delay. But she was a little unsettled by the prospect of temporarily operating without a contract, even though the district assured her a new contract would be developed eventually.

“There was a time when it went on for month after month I began to wonder if the district had concerns” about the program, Scofield said. “Because it went on so long I wondered if there was some kind of obstacle, but we have pretty open communication and good rapport and they always conveyed it was a matter of being busy.”

The new contract, expected to be adopted by the district’s School Board June 19, is similar to the old one but with a few wording changes to reflect the program’s move from 804 Grand Ave. to 1401 N. First St. and some clarifications about district responsibilities versus the program’s responsibilities for things like building maintenance. The new contract also requires the program to notify the district of Vision policy changes in writing before the program’s board of stewards votes on proposed changes.

The biggest change in the new contract is that it will operate on an annual basis and automatically renew each year unless the district or Vision personnel object, Scofield said.

The Vision program has about 375 students enrolled for the 2012–13 school year and another 80 to 90 on a waiting list, according to Scofield. Students in the program are homeschooled, but their parents receive state funding through District 51 to purchase curriculum and get advice from Vision employees, who are called resource consultants.

The program is considering a move into a larger facility and found “three or four buildings around town that might work,” Scofield said. Plans to move are on hold, though, until the program can clarify how many modifications it will have to make to an existing building. Scofield said she is reviewing fire codes and safety statutes to determine which rules that apply to schools where students are present each day would apply to a Vision building, where staff work but students are only in the building on occasion for testing or guidance.


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