What to do about homeschool co-op drop outs

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There was a discussion on the Facebook group  I Am a Homeschool Group Leader on co-op drop outs. Lots of leaders shared advice.

How do you handle teachers/parents leaving our homeschool co-op mid-session? We have had a few drop outs and it causes serious stress and scrambling for me. We are free except supply fees, but all parents are required to teach or assist (in a class of their choosing). I am almost thinking we need a ‘punishment’ in place for dropping out.
I don’t know what to do right now. I hate to charge fees but I’m thinking now that is why a lot of co-op’s do…….you value something more if you pay for it.

-Kerri

Amanda says: We have a similar problem with folks registering for free field trips and not showing up, which often upsets the staff of the field trip location. We have decided to charge $10 per family for the free field trips and refund it 100% to every family who actually attends. If someone does not attend, their money will be donated to a local charity. Perhaps some variation of this approach might work for your situation.

Georgi says: We now have a teacher agreement that teachers have to sign when they decide to teach, indicating their commitment for the entire year. We still have had a few leave, but I think it has helped people really think through their decisions before making that commitment. We try to spell it out so people realize how much of an affect it has on everyone in the group. If someone does have to leave for some reason, the teacher has to contact each parent and refund their money even if she’s purchased supplies. We have had one person leave mid-year, but fortunately, another mom was willing to pick up the class. The teacher was required to give the new teacher half the class fees.

We allow each teacher to charge their own fee for classes, and recommend that each charge at least $1.00 a class. This helps parents not flake out and not attend classes. It’s hard to have some classes (like gym) if parents don’t bother to show up. We found that charging even a little cut down on that. Your last thought is exactly right – you value something more if you have to pay for it. We also are not a drop off – parents have to volunteer, and the amount of time depends on how long they are there. Usually 2-3 hours if they are there all day. Oh, and each family takes a turn cleaning the church at the end of the day (4 weeks a year).

I’m sorry you are so discouraged, but I understand and have been there. And remember – you can’t be all things to all people, and you can’t teach everything. If others don’t step up to fill in the openings, those classes might have to be dropped. I guarantee people will be more apt to teach next year if they have to do without this year. Doesn’t make this year easier, though. Hang in there!

Melissa says: We charge a $10 per student non-refundable fee. This covers insurance and any other “general” expenses for our Class Day. Then, we charge class fees according to what the teacher needs for the individual classes. We have had a few that ended up moving mid session. We live in a military town, but we usually have someone else take over the class. I think the suggestion for an agreement for the teacher to sign might be a good idea for you guys till you get the point across over the next couple of sessions that if you sign up to teach, you better stay! You can see our documents for how we operate our classes here: https://checc.info/forms/ClassDayRegistrationForm.pdf It actually has all of our rules and everything if you keep scrolling through the applications. Maybe there will be something of help to you in there.

Roseanne says: We have a put a commitment fee of $100 in place. If the member does all she is required, she can get it back at the end of the year or roll it over into next year. We also have a family or individual member fee and some classes have an extra class supplies/book fee as well. Please know that these growing pains will work out.

We interview new families wanting to join our co-op so we can get to know them and they us. We also make sure they are fully aware of their responsibilities during the interview process. After we accept them (we’ve only had to “reject” 1-2 families but allowed them as individuals), they can choose to come or not.
Also we have a mandatory business meeting the Thurs. evening before our first week of class. We go over all the things that everyone should already know and any new policies that the board has put in place. The more we put things in front of members, the better our days go.

Our general rule of thumb for the new members is to staff our nursery/preschool/kdg. areas so they can take the first year to get used to the way our co-op runs before they teach a class. There have been the rare exceptions.
We charge a late fee for being late to a first period class three times in a row. Some families pay these on a regular basis.

Jennifer says: This wouldn’t apply if you’re brand new (we were two years ago) but we like for our members to be active in the Co-op for at least a semester before offering to teach. With some, I can tell they are committed. With others, I have had to gently tell them to hold off on teaching. You can usually tell after one semester how a family will be about commitment, being on time (don’t get me started), not staying home “just because”, etc. If you’re brand new, it’s a different story. We were begging for teachers at the first meeting and thought we wouldn’t get enough. It has always worked our somehow. Some do back out before sign- ups, but I’d much rather they do it then than mid semester, and give us time to get a replacement class. We don’t have a signed commitment, but our teachers know they are committing for the semester.

Isn’t that great advice? If you’d like advice like this, you can join us at I Am a Homeschool Group Leader on Facebook.

Carol Topp, CPA

 

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