Farmington family school enrolling students

Joshua Kellogg
From left, Northeast Elementary School Assistant Principal Desiree Edney,  Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Gene Schmidt and Northeast Elementary Principal Candace Young talk during an interview Wednesday at Northeast Elementary School in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — A new family school program at Northeast Elementary School in Farmington — which allows students to split their instruction time between home and a district classroom — is enrolling students for the upcoming school year.

The Northeast Elementary School Family Partnership Program is currently enrolling students in kindergarten through fifth grade for the 2016-2017 school year starting on Aug. 16.

Northeast Principal Candace Young said about 60 to 70 students have already applied for a spot in the program since a Monday evening meeting to provide information to parents and students.

“I think what we are offering parents is a very dynamic program for their children,” Young said.

Northeast Elementary Principal Candace Young talks Wednesday during an interview at Northeast Elementary School in Farmington.

It appears it will be one of three family school programs in New Mexico when it opens in the fall.

The New Mexico Public Education Department is only aware of two other similar programs being offered by state school districts, according to state education spokesman Robert McEntyre.

Desert Willow Family School in Albuquerque and the West Las Vegas Family Partnership school in Las Vegas are the other two family school programs in the state.

District officials have been planning the new program since Superintendent Gene Schmidt presented the idea to the Board of Education during a Jan. 14 work session.

The program could help increase enrollment in the district after it lost 141 students from the 2014-2015 school year to the current 2015-2016 school year. The drop in enrollment contributed to a loss of state funding, prompting the need to cut about $4.35 million in expenses for the upcoming school year.

Farmington schools will receive state funding for the students enrolled in the program, Schmidt said.

In the program, students will spend 15 hours a week in a Northeast elementary classroom Tuesday through Friday and 15 hours dedicated for home instruction. Mondays will be set aside for family learning, when they can tackle some of the 15 hours.

Classroom instruction will focus on English, language arts and math. Subjects like science, social studies and extracurricular activities like music, athletics, art and computer skills will be taught at home.

Multi-age classrooms will be setup were students in kindergarten and first grade; second and third grade; and fourth and fifth grade are grouped together.

There will be morning and afternoon sessions offered for students Tuesday through Thursday with both sessions meeting together on Friday mornings.

The program showcases the commitment from the Farmington Municipal School District to explore new ways to educate children, Schmidt said.

“The district has a strong belief in public education,” Schmidt said. “Public education can come in many forms.”

At the core of the family school program is a dual partnership as parents and teachers carry an equal responsibility in a child’s education, Young said.

“We have a section of the community that will benefit from this because they enjoy educating their children,” Young said.

The curriculum will place students into groups based on their individual learning needs and a project-based learning focus will require students to demonstrate their knowledge, Young said.

Northeast Elementary Principal Candace Young talks with Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Gene Schmidt during an interview, Wednesday at Northeast Elementary School in Farmington.

Weekly “learning logs” provided by teachers will be filled out by parents to document the education taking place in the home. Parents will also be required to attend monthly workshops hosted by teachers.

Parents interested in enrolling their student in the program can visit the Northeast elementary front office to receive an application.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.