Steamboat Springs The first year of full-day kindergarten has presented a challenge for the Steamboat Springs School District.
The district is owed $4,237.45, as of Monday morning, from 13 parents of children who attended the program last year.
Superintendent Shalee Cunningham told School Board members last week that the district was actively calling parents in an effort to collect unpaid fees. At that time, the district was owed about $5,000.
On Monday, she said they had some success reaching parents and would continue to make phone calls. Cunningham said she wasn't sure what the next step would be if members struggled to collect all the outstanding fees.
The full-day kindergarten program began last year, after district parents requested it. A 2008 survey of 412 parents indicated overwhelming support for the program, with 362 asking for it.
Because the Colorado Department of Education provides funding for only half-day kindergarten, parents would have to foot the bill for full-day kindergarten.
In March 2008, the School Board approved tuition-based full-day kindergarten, which would begin for the 2008-09 school year. The district's initial cost estimate was $5,720, but it ended up costing parents $2,572 for the year.
The district elected to let parents pay a monthly fee, as opposed to paying a lump sum before the start of the school year.
School Board President Robin Crossan said Monday that she thought the current unpaid fees could be a result of the economy.
"But it doesn't negate the fact that their students attended kindergarten last year," she said. "I'm sure the district will work out a plan with the families."
In addition to phone calls, statements letting parents know their accounts are past due will be sent this week, said Debbie Ginesta, assistant to the superintendent, in an e-mail Monday.
"These accounts need to be paid before July 1," she wrote. July 1 is the start of the next fiscal year.
Last year, 80 students attended full-day kindergarten in four classes split between Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools. For 2009-10, 126 students have been enrolled. At Soda Creek, four classes will consist of 18 students each. And at Strawberry Park, there will be three classes, each with 18 students. Enrollment has been capped.
Each school also offers one half-day kindergarten class.
Next year's tuition for full-day kindergarten is $2,250. A 10 percent down payment is due Aug. 1. Monthly payments of $225 begin Sept. 1 and continue through May 1, 2010. The cost is $322 less than last year.