Steamboat Springs School District tries to recoup fees | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs School District tries to recoup fees

District enlists agency to make up for lost kindergarten tuition

Jack Weinstein

Editor’s Note: This story has been changed from its original version, to note that parents of students who attend full-day kindergarten should make payments at, or send them to, the Steamboat Springs School District offices at the George P. Sauer Human Services Center, 325 Seventh St.

The Steamboat Springs Sch­­ool District has enlisted a collection agency to recoup unpaid full-day kindergarten fees from the 2009-10 school year.

Last year was the second year of the district's full-day kindergarten program and also the second year it has had trouble collecting kindergarten fees from some families. During the 2008-09 school year, the district ultimately was able to collect overdue tuition costs before having to take any additional steps.

Superintendent Shalee Cunn­­­­ingham said in an e-mail Monday that parents of six kindergartners last year had outstanding balances. She said those balances totaled $2,969.50. The collection agency charges 30 percent, which means about $900 in lost revenue for the district.

Colorado does not pay for full-day kindergarten, but it provides 58 percent of the state's finance formula funding amount for kindergartners — intended for half-day kindergarten.

The School Board approved tuition-based full-day kindergarten in March 2008. That year, nearly 88 percent of the more than 400 parents surveyed supported the program.

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Full-day kindergarten cost $2,250 last year, or $225 for 10 months. However, the district provided eligible parents $211 refunds because the district overestimated what the program would cost last year. The program is intended to pay only for itself.

The full-day kindergarten fee has declined each year, from $2,572 in 2008-09 to $2,000 this school year.

Cunningham said parents can pay by personal check or cash. They also have the option of paying $200 a month from September through June or paying the entire amount at any time.

Before last school year, Cunningham said the district be­­­­gan requiring kindergarten parents to sign a contract promising they'll pay the tuition. She said reminder e-mails also are sent to parents each month.

School Board President Robin Crossan said she thinks the outstanding balances are the result of difficult economic times.

"I believe that the district admin tried the best they could to follow up," Crossan said. "It's very unfortunate that we've had to pass it to a collection agency. I think we're all hopeful that the families are able to work out a payment plan."

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