MEYERSDALE — Nearly 4.5 mills of taxes in the Meyersdale school district go toward alternative schooling, according to Superintendent Tracey Karlie.
The millage rate translates to $455,000 of taxpayers' money going toward cyber, charter, private and homeschooled students. The total millage rate is 22.54.
The number of students in cyberschool decreased by two this year, bringing the number to 17. Fifteen students in the district are homeschooled and 10 students attend Hyndman charter school. Several other students attend Mountain View Christian School in Springs.
Students attending private or charter schools within 10 miles of the district are entitled to free transportation paid for by the school district, Karlie said.
Curriculum director Tim Kretchman said many of the parents who choose homeschooling for their children are seeking a Christian education. Kretchman works with homeschool parents on curriculum and signs off on portfolios completed by parents and students at the end of the year.
"We're very involved in the curriculum," he said. "I'm working beside them the whole time."
Homeschooled students are required to take regular standardized tests to ensure they are on the same level as their peers in brick-and-mortar schools.
He said he spends about three or four weeks each summer working with homeschooled students and their parents.
He said many students choose charter schools because they are looking for an alternative education. Cyberschools, those offering instruction primarily online, are regulated by the same laws that regulate public schools, he said.
"A cyber education, from my perspective, is highly based on the ability of a student to motivate themselves to do their work," he said.
He said brick-and-mortar schools offer a more personal touch.
"I think it's the difference between being able to relate to the person standing in front of you. If I'm standing there in front of you, I know how much you're paying attention, what faces you're making at me and the questions you're asking," he said.