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Farmington district hosts family school meeting

Joshua Kellogg
jkellogg@daily-times.com
Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Gene Schmidt addresses the crowd Thursday at district headquarters during a meeting about the possible creation of a family school program.

FARMINGTON – Nearly 70 people attended a meeting hosted by the Farmington Municipal School District administrators Thursday to ask questions about the district's plans to establish a new family school program.

Superintendent Gene Schmidt said he was delighted with the response, stating there is a need for the program in which students split their instruction time between a district classroom and their home.

The district is looking to implement the first phase of the program in August for the start of the 2016-2017 school year, Schmidt said.

The program would lead to participating students being registered in the Farmington school district and could help the district with an enrollment decline of 129 students from the 2014-2015 school year to the current 2015-2016 school year.

Nicole Wiley and her son 7-year old Eladamirie Wiley listen Thursday during meeting about a proposed family school at Farmington Municipal School District headquarters.

Parents like Paula Lambright had questions about how the program's operations and what the class schedule might look like. Lambright has been home-schooling her children for about nine years and enjoys the flexibility that arrangement allows. She said she is open to trying something new with her children's education.

“I think it would be great for my kids to have something different,” Lambright said.

A possible location for the program might be at Northeast Elementary School since it has three open classrooms, according to the school's assistant principal, Desiree Edney.

Classroom time would focus on math, English and language arts with a focus on project-based learning. Subjects like science, social studies and extracurricular activities would be taught at home by parents.

Schmidt said enrollment would be key to determining classroom size and how the multi-grade classrooms would be formed.

“We need enrollment to drive this program and get it off the ground,” Schmidt said. He asked parents to fill out a form during the meeting, listing the children they would be interested in enrolling in the program.

The program is aiming for about 15 students in a morning class and another 15 in the afternoon.

Anngela Waken asks a question Thursday during a meeting about a proposed family school at the Farmington Municipal School District headquarters.

Students would be required to participate in state-mandated testing like the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam.

Parent Abby Green said her two​ children already are enrolled in Farmington schools, and she was trying to determine if the program might be a good fit for her family.

“I feel like this is the closest I could get to home schooling because I feel like it’s important for the kids to have someone else other than me teaching,” Green said.

Members of the advisory committee also spoke about the program's possible schedule.

Committee member Amanda Ramirez shared a proposed schedule in which Monday would be dedicated to home school instruction and district classroom time would be scheduled for the rest of the week. Ramirez also discussed the possibility of classroom time in which students attending the morning and afternoon classes would merge and work together on projects.

At the end of the meeting, Schmidt asked for more parents to join the advisory committee to further develop the program’s curriculum and operations.

Steering committee member Amanda Ramirez answers questions Thursday, during a meeting about a proposed family school at Farmington Municipal School District headquarters.

Schmidt plans to give a presentation to the school board during its March 12 meeting to seek approval to continue developing the program and start the process of hiring teachers.

More information on the development of the family school project can be found on a Facebook page created by parents at bit.ly/familyschool.

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