by Mike Donnelly, HSLDA
A recent WVnews article by Kailee Gallahan claims that “homeschooling cuts about $2 million from Harrison School systems funding.” However, her reporting that the loss of 582 students who homeschool in the county “equates to a loss of $2.5 million and the potential for more than 35 school positions” was both misleading and factually incorrect. Masquerading as a news piece, the article was a thinly veiled attack on homeschooling, built on quotes from three Harrison County school officials.
The article claims that homeschooling hurts Harrison County schools and, by implication, public education in West Virginia by depriving the county of resources it could use to serve its student population. If this claim is true, one might be interested in understanding how such a situation could be addressed. (Surely not by making it harder to homeschool, but by fixing a school funding formula that punishes school systems based on how many homeschoolers there are in the individual districts.)
But Gallahan’s claim is false.
Harrison County lost nothing because of homeschooling. According to West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) enrollment figures, Harrison County did not lose 582 students or have their budget cut by $2.5 million. Rather, the school system’s enrollment numbers went from 10,753 to 10,734, a statistically insignificant 19 fewer enrolled students between 2018 and 2019.
Gallahan reports that there are 582 homeschooled students in Harrison County. This represents a significant increase compared to the number from some years ago — which, according to Harrison County Attendance Director Jim Kirby, was approximately 180 – 200 in 2004. But these numbers actually represent savings to the county and state.
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