School district struggles to receive kindergarten fees

Officials hope kindergarten costs won't continue to go unpaid

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Collecting fees for full-day kindergarten again is proving to be a challenge for the Steamboat Springs School District.

As of Thursday, district officials were trying to collect September tuition, which was due on the first of the month, from parents of 27 children, or 23 percent of the kindergarten's 120-student full-day enrollment. District officials also were trying to collect the $225 deposit - equivalent to the monthly fee - that was due Aug. 7 from parents of 12 children, or 10 percent of enrollment.

Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said she didn't expect collecting kindergarten fees would be a problem this year, as it was a year ago during the district's first year offering the full-day program, but she's not frustrated.

"I think we're just starting," she said. "Parents are getting into the pattern of paying. I think it's just the beginning."

The full-day program was offered for the first time last year after the Steamboat Springs School Board approved tuition-based full-day kindergarten in March 2008. A 2008 survey of 412 parents indicated overwhelming support for the program, with 362 requesting it.

The district's initial cost estimate for the program was $5,720, but it ended up costing parents $2,572 last year.

Full-day kindergarten tuition for the 2009-10 school year, which began last week, is $2,250, said Leah Henderson, the district's office manager. She said parents can pay tuition in $225 monthly installments or work out alternative payment plans. If parents paid their child's tuition throughout the year, the deposit would be used for the June payment, the last month of the school year.

Henderson said the district collected unpaid fees for last school year until August, and one parent still is paying. During the summer, it considered taking legal action against the parents with unpaid fees but was not forced to do that. She said the district would like to avoid having to collect unpaid fees deep into the summer.

To help mitigate that, the district asked parents this year to sign a contract, Henderson said. As of Thursday, she said parents of 16 children, representing 13 percent of enrollment, had not returned the signed contract.

Cunningham said the contract's purpose was to let parents know the full-day kindergarten program had a fee and that there was an obligation to pay. She couldn't say whether the contract would give the district an avenue to take legal action against parents with unpaid fees because the district didn't take that route last year.

For questions about paying or to set up a payment plan, call Henderson at 871-3198.

Comments

Bob Kois 5 years, 3 months ago

Is this a public school? Are the students required to attend? What advantage do full day students have over half day students? If they don't attend kindergarten, what happens in first grade?
Why doesn't the community think it is important to pay for these students? How much do 1st graders pay? How much do senior in High School pay? For the hard working "Guest Workers" in the community, I would think this is a rather high percentage of their income. Giving their children a great start at school is very important. WOW for the taxes I pay, all these kids should be going to school for free. (Like a public education)

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bandmama 5 years, 3 months ago

bob- good questions, not sure if I have answers but it was my understanding (my child is WAY past the kindergarten point) that with the increasing costs and decreasing availibility of day care in the area, this was offered as an option for the parents who couldn't get daycare services. I dont remember if there was a good arguement in favor of the advantages of full time kindergarten. I personally dont see the point, if you want your kid to go straight into all day schooling, then start with first grade and call a spade a spade. Again, I may be mistaken, but this was an OPTION for the parents, and those who did sign up for it, in my opinion need to pay. It is not budgeted into the districts funds. It was done to help working parents of young kids and as a tax payer, ahhh, gee, no one paid for my child's daycare at that age, I was required to cover it out of pocket.

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