The Granbury School Board of Trustees, at their regular monthly meeting on Monday June 13, settled the question of whether home-schooled students would be allowed to participate in UIL activities.
The vote was 4-1, with Melanie Graft providing the sole yes vote. Administrator Courtney Gore was absent.
The issue was put on the agenda for the regular council meeting in May at the request of Graft, whose children are homeschooled.
At that time, other members of the school board, with the exception of Barbara Herrington and Mike Moore, indicated that they were ready to consider it provided the challenges and concerns could be resolved.
Trustees Mark Jackson, Barbara Townsend, Paula McDonald, Gore and Graft voted to have staff create a policy that would be subject to board approval.
In the weeks following this meeting, an 11-point guideline was drafted, but by the June meeting the tide had turned.
It was again recognized that parents of homeschoolers are taxpayers, but it was also noted that the school district loses money when students are homeschooled rather than enrolled in a public school.
According to Superintendent Jeremy Glenn, the district receives about $6,100 a year for each student, depending on their level of attendance.
Herrington again voiced his opposition to the idea. In her statement, she noted the “long, hard and arduous days” endured by students in public education who sit in classrooms and participate in extracurricular activities. She also acknowledged a recent survey in which more than 70% of GISD staff surveyed said they opposed the proposal.
The long-serving administrator said she felt the approval of such a plan would allow school children at home “to have their cake and eat it too”, adding: “I think it is a uneven playing field.”
Graft said the community expressed support for such a move. She reiterated that she is a taxpayer and repeated a comment from the May meeting that she attributed to Weatherford ISD School Board Chairman Mike Guest: “If we’re for the kids, then we have to be for all the children”.
Jackson, who introduced the motion at the May meeting to develop policy in accordance with HB 547 – legislation that allows non-registered students equal opportunity access to UIL activities but does not require it – said he started “listening to those around me” and “started to see this as problematic”.
Jackson said, “Ultimately I couldn’t make it, but maybe a future board will consider it.”
After Jackson made her statement, Herrington reiterated a motion she made earlier in the discussion.
“I propose that the board deny homeschooling students participation in UIL activities of any kind in GISD,” she said.
Jackson said he wasn’t sure he would have chosen the word “deny,” but he seconded Herrington’s motion.