Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pay for K

As requested. The issue has never made sense to me. Some schools offer free all day Kindergarten and other school charge. I believe the schools in the NE cluster talked about creating a standard fee because it wasn't fair for families to get assigned to a school with a higher monthly fee. My understanding is that each school's Building Leadership Team (BLT) determines how many Kindergarten classes to offer and whether they want to charge parents to pay for additional FTE (full time employee) since 1 kindergarten teacher could teach 2xs as many 1/2 day kids. Title 1 schools have free all day Kindergarten and kids who qualify for free/reduced lunch don't have to pay either.

78 comments:

Chris said...

Rumor has it that next year the district will be imposing a standard fee (hooray) and administrating the collection of it. The troublesome aspect is that schools may be getting significantly less FTE (boo) for a similar or slightly increased fee. Can anyone confirm or deny? Will the fee be waived for FRL families? What about scholarships offered by school parent groups?

jamie said...

Can you tell us how much the standard fee will be?

Luz said...

During the meet and greet with at Sand Point Elementary, I am pretty sure that Pat Sanders mentioned that the fee for all would be $207.
I worry that now the district would collect the money... not sure it would go back to the school...

Maureen said...

I have heard (from one of our Site Council reps, who heard it from our Asst. Principal) that the standard fee will be $207 per month. Her understanding was that FRL families would not have to pay. It will be collected by the District which makes our staff happy.

Last year, almost all of the schools south of North Capitol Hill had free all day K for everyone enrolled at the schools (there were a few exceptions). I am under the impression that this change means that every non-FRL K family in the District will be paying $207 a month next year, even if their kid attends a school with 90% FRL rate. Does that sound right to others who are following this?

It isn't clear to me what will happen to any extra money raised by the District next year--I assume it will just all go into one big pot and (non-FRL) parents will pay for all ten months even if their building's cost is covered.

I don't understand what happens to you if you just don't pay. I know this year parents have received memos threatening late fees, but I don't know what the collection procedure is for people who don't pay. Do they lock your kid out in the hall? Do they send them home?

Anna B said...

Personally I like the idea of a standard rate for pay for K imposed on everyone equally, with scholarships offered to families eligible for FRE.

Maureen, why should every family in a school that is 90% FRL be exempt from tuition? Souldn't the 10% that can pay, have to pay, like everyone else? Then scholarship the remaining 90%.

Honestly, I don't think any familt should have to pay for K. But if we have to pay then I think there should be a fair, consistent, and even system for levying tuition. I think it's crazy that some schools charge $300, others charge $90 and others charge nothing. Fees could skew parents choice and they may choose a school based soley on what tuition they can afford. That seems wrong to me.

Do any other districts in the US have their families pay for K? Or is it just us?

Anna B said...

continued from above.

I know it's easier on staff to have the district collect the tuition, but I'm worried that money will go into one big pot and then be divied up at the districts discretion. IE they may hire less staff, increase class sizes, only offer two K classrooms instead of 3 or 4, etc.

I don't like and don't trust the Central office controling pay for K funds....at all.

Maureen said...

Anna B, I didn't say I thought they shouldn't pay--my point is that it is going to be quite a surprise to some families since those (Title I) schools have never paid before. I also think those families are more likely to be on the edge of poverty themselves and so more heavily impacted.

I think they should have a sliding scale or a scholarship fund that non-FRL families can access. As is, whether your family of four earns $3401 per month or ten times that, you pay $207 to SPS. I suppose that is cheap relative to daycare, but many families are making sacrifices to keep a parent at home and to have time to volunteer at school.

Kin2010 said...

Yesterday, both Adams' and Whittier principals mentioned the $207 standard fee to be collected by the district and the Whittier principal mentioned that all schools will have a full day K option. The way she said it, which I can't remember exactly, has been bugging me. I am wondering if the district is still considering 1/2 K in schools where they know they have capacity issues. Will all families who want full day K be able to get into one and when will we know which schools might not allow this, if any?

I got the impression at the North Beach open house that the 1/2 day K funding they collect pays for teachers/assistants or activities beyond the usual offerings. Anyone know more about that?

Although the enrollment services site has been updated, it is not easy to find information about kindergarten. No mention of fees or 1/2 or full day options.
-BTW, thanks for the thread.

Maureen said...

Another thought--I think it will be interesting to see what it does to the FRL rate at some schools. Our school just instituted Pay for K this year. Our overall FRL rate last year was 24%, this year in the K class, it is suddenly 40%. The economy is worse this year--but still it makes me think that Pay for K drove about eight families to apply for FRL who would not have otherwise.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing--but now a bunch of kids are going to be categorized as FRL who wouldn't have been before. I'm assuming that they are the kids who are closer to being middle class and so less disadvantaged. The WASL scores for those kindergarteners older sibs will suddenly switch into the FRL category. If scores go up, will SPS recognize that it is because different kids are in the group, or will they call it an improvement?

jamie said...

Thanks, it's nice to know what to theoretically budget for. I'm still a little grumpy about not having a genuine half day option (which I would likely choose for my youngish kindergartener) but this makes it a little less annoying.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Will all families who want full day K be able to get into one and when will we know which schools might not allow this, if any?"

My understanding of the transition plan is that one of the "strategies" for capacity management at some schools may include only having 1/2 K. That said, it may not happen or it could happen at just a few schools for a few years.

I would think they wouldn't know if they needed to do this under AFTER Open Enrollment thus adding to the worry for parents.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Will all families who want full day K be able to get into one and when will we know which schools might not allow this, if any?"

My understanding of the transition plan is that one of the "strategies" for capacity management at some schools may include only having 1/2 K. That said, it may not happen or it could happen at just a few schools for a few years.

I would think they wouldn't know if they needed to do this under AFTER Open Enrollment thus adding to the worry for parents.

Maureen said...

So, how does 1/2 day K work? Is transportation provided? ($52,000 per bus, remember?) If five families decide not to pay for full day K, will their kids be bused home at noon while the remaining kids enjoy reduced class size? Can they both say that paying is a choice and not offer you transportation if you choose not to?

StepJ said...

This is not my area of expertise, so am borrowing from other parents who are more in the know than I am.

What I understand...the State pays for one full day K class per school and also the full-day fee for children qualifying for FRL.

I share the concerns of Anna B. What will happen with the funds if the District decides to collect instead of the local school?

Schools in our area vary widely in their pay for K rates. Mainly, because of the number of full day K classes offered at a school, and the seniority of the teachers teaching those classes.

All of the schools I know of try to be very fair in setting their pay for K rates.

Some schools with more than one full day K have the PTA subsidize so that they charge anywhere from $0 to $240 a month to help meet their true expense.

Other schools vary their amount each year based on their costs and charge no more than what it costs them to fund more than one full day K class. One school I know of in our area has two full day K classes and charges $140 a month.

What will happen for schools that have unreimbursed expenses above $207 per child? Will they remain underfunded with the stated belief of MGJ that the PTA's will make up the difference?

What will happen for schools with unreimbursed expenses below $207 per month. Will the District pocket the difference or will it be passed along to the school?

Overall, I trust my local school much more than I trust Central Administration when it comes to the appropriate use of funds for educating my child.

To respond to some other queries...At our school if you do not pay your Pay for K fee by the 10th of the month you receive a past due notice. If you have not paid by the 1st of the following month then your child is dismissed from school at the half day point (prior to lunch.)

I do know that Mercer Island has a pay for full day program. Last year it was $400 a month. However, they call it enhanced K as they take many field trips, outside music and art classes, etc.

StepJ said...

Melissa,

To clarify...Tracy did say that the 1/2 day K decision at some schools (for capacity management) would not be made until after Open Enrollment.

You may enroll for full day K and then be informed in May that you may only have a half day option.

Di said...

I still can’t grasp why it’s OK to ask parents to pay for K. We seem to all just put up with it, write the checks and then forget about it the next year. If it’s OK to pay for K to get the music/art/PE part of the day, why isn’t it OK to charge +$200/month for the rest of the grades (which would be met with revolt, right?) Why can’t the district budget such that “excellence for all” means full day K? Or on the flip side, decide ½ day is appropriate for all and leave it at that? While F/RL kids do get their subsidy, this still amounts to a chunk of money and a hardship for many non-F/RL families. We were never given any idea of who collects the money, a breakout of where it goes, etc. It just seems like paying into a black hole. And at least at our school in the NE cluster, I’ve never known a family to opt out, a child would miss out so much of the K experience, and start way behind the curve the next year in 1st grade.

who will be makign the "1/2 day for capactiy" decision? the principal or district?

Maureen said...

Here's an Informative Flyer from Schmitz Park about Pay for K in 09-10.

It says, in part:
The state of Washington only provides for half-day kindergarten. Seattle Schools provides one full day kindergarten with options for schools to use discretionary funds, grants or fee based programs to extend full day kindergarten to all students.

It is my understanding that the state does not pay for full day K for all FRL students, although in the past, students in Title I schools (FRL rate > 50% or so) did get free all day K in Seattle. So , in the past, prices were set at schools so nonFRL families paid enough to cover the share of FRL families at that school.

Lori said...

I would hope that the forms available for Open Enrollment would gauge families' interest in 1/2 day K during the process if indeed some schools need to consider that option for capacity management. Otherwise, how will they decide which families to assign to the half-day program, should that become necessary? What's fair?

Wouldn't it be lovely if for planning purposes, families with split siblings (based on this month's assignment letters) could indicate on the enrollment form in March their relative interest in full-day versus half-day K? If I remember correctly, you could do that under the old system for schools like Laurelhurst - there was a code for full day K and another code for half day. You could rank one or both of those options on your form in the past. Of course, this would only capture data from those unhappy with their original assignment. The other necessary step would be for the potentially over-enrolled schools to independently survey the assigned families about their interest as well.

Who knows how many families might like 1/2 day K? Many assume that no one wants it, but we might be surprised. But I'd at least like to see the district make the effort to learn people's preferences before doing something drastic like random assignment to 1/2 day K at schools where such a program has not traditionally existed.

Tamara Oki said...

Just a note on FRL - some families don't register because they only see it as being about lunch and their student brings lunch and/or doesn't like the school lunch. However, there are other benefits/programs to a school if it's FRL numbers reach certain benchmarks.

It's interesting to see that there are other potential motivations to register for FRL.

Lori said...

Despite my last post about how to make this work, I have to say that I'm with Di on this issue. I've never understood how the district/school can charge families for "public education." Either the schools should all do 1/2-day K or all do full-day K. Where is the "excellence for all" if some kids can't afford to attend full-day K with their peers?

I suspect they got away with it under the old system because every school did charge something different, and you felt like you were joining a community of your choosing (for most of us at least), and knowing that you wrote the check directly to your school and that the funds were used locally made it a bit more palatable. And in my part of town, a lot of us were paying much much more for preschool, so the $200-or-so per month fee was actually a cost savings! We viewed it as making our cash contributions to the school on a regular basis rather than thru sporadic fundraisers. We just figured we'd spend less on fundraisers that first year while paying for K then increase our donations to PTSA, the auction, etc in later years.

However, now that parents can no longer choose a school, the district has to standardize the fee out of fairness. You can't assign one family to a school charging $140/month while the family across the street is assigned to $240/month. I wonder if this change (schools that charged nothing this year will charge $207 next year) may be just the thing to spark a legal challenge to the practice?

(I'm also with Di in wondering why stop at pay for K? Why not charge a monthly fee for other services? At our school, the 4th and 5th graders no longer have art with the art teacher. Why not charge those families a monthly fee to pay for a part-time art teacher? What's the difference?)

Seattle said...

This is the only info on the SPS website I can find:

"If my new attendance area school charges a fee for full-day kindergarten, will
I have to pay for it?

SPS is currently studying and considering whether a change in policy will be made.
Currently, the State of Washington pays only for half-day kindergarten. Thanks to
voter-approved levies, Seattle Public Schools has offered one full-day kindergarten
class at every school. Some schools are able to add additional full-day K classes
through funds allocated from the federal government, such as Title I. Other schools
have chosen to add additional classes by charging fees. We will post information to our
Web site when these decisions have been made."

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/transition_quickfacts.pdf

Maureen said...

I'm thinking they can get away with charging for K (but not other grades) because kindergarten attendance is not mandatory in WA state.

Education Commission of the States . Scroll down to WA entry: Kindergarten attendance is not mandatory in this state.

Dora Taylor said...

Kindergarten should be mandatory in Washington!

That's how it is in California and always has been.

Kids need kindergarten to prepare them for first grade. It's the natural step between nursery school, pre-K and first grade.

If that was a way for the state legislature to not pay for kindergarten than that is totally bogus.

Maybe with this court judgment for the state to provide the mandatory money to the school districts, kindergarten will be paid for in full.

You need to demand that of your legislature instead of worrying about how much you have to pay. You shouldn't have to pay anything!

Dora Taylor said...

I just want to add that Washington is #42 in the country in terms of overall student performance.

It is no longer a tolerable situation to accept the status quo.

For the quality of education to improve here, you need to question everything and demand far more than you have so far.

wsnorth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wsnorth said...

I've seen statistics like that before, but never a source. Can you share that source (about us being #42)? I find it kind of hard to believe.

Rosie said...

What schools currently offer an "official" half day K? I know Salmon Bay does. Any other schools?

seattle citizen said...

Kindergarten could pay for itself if we follow the business model and make the children puely economic units. It's all about producing producers, being career-ready, so all we have to do is get them producing WHILE they're in kindergarten, instead of waiting for them to graduate. They could make doilies.

spedvocate said...

What about students with disabilities? They are entitled by federal law to a "free and appropriate education". Wouldn't pay for K be illegal in such a circumstance, especially if their IEPs required full-day? While it may be sad an entitlement to a FAPE isn't available for everyone, the point is that it IS true for students on IEPs.

spedvocate said...

Some schools have not charged students with IEPs the pay for K, fearing the federal entitlement problem. Others, have plowed away and charged students with disabilities the tuition. My own feeling is that if the district signs off on an IEP requiring more than 600 minutes of IEP time... they better not charge tuition for it.

Anna B said...

"I just want to add that Washington is #42 in the country in terms of overall student performance"

Dora where did you find this number? I'd like to see it for myself. Also does anyone know where to find our state ranking statistics? I've heard we rank in the 40th percentile for class size and I'd like to read more about that too.

And Dora I don't agree that kindergarten attendance should be mandatory. Some kids are not ready for kindergarten and would do better at home or in pre school for one more year.

My kids went to a Waldorf pre school where the philosophy was to focus on the social aspects of pre school, play, learning to share, take turn, etc. But they did not teach any academics. At all. No ABC's, no counting, nothing. Despite what a warm and nurturing place the pre school was I had friends who truly thought I was doing my kids an injustice and that they would be totally unprepared for KINDERGARTEN.

When my oldest arrived at kindergarten he could count to about 17, and could sing the ABC's, but could not identify any numbers or letters by sight. It is true that when he arrived he was behind the other kids that could identify every letter in the alphabet, write some words, write their names, do basic addition, count to 100 and so on.

Yet, my son was the first to read in his class. He was also well ahead of the class in addition by the end of the year. And socially he thrived.

It's not always about how early we shovel or force feed facts into kids brains. There is a human aspect to learning too. Some kids are ready for kindergarten and some are not. It should be a parents choice whether or not to send their child to K, not a state mandate.

HighlandParkBWCaptain said...

I agree with Dora. Kindergarten should be mandatory. Along with that the state should be funding preschool as well. Other states do it. Illinois for one. There is no reason why preschools can't be introducing basic abc's and 123's.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I think whatever we do it should be across the board. One of the biggest issues around the achievement gap is the variance of school readiness between children. Most of those that have had preschool and kindergarten have advantages over those who did not.

Whether they are learning ABCs or just playing, the children in preschool are learning the basic structure and expectations of participating in a group, following rules, etc. That alone can give a child an advantage of one who has only been in the home (or grandma's or an in-home daycare).

If kindergarten is not mandatory, then some children will be entering 1st grade—the time when academic learning AND testing begins—at a disadvantage. Where their classmates are already versed in the code of conduct and may already be reading, the child without the pre/K advantage will be trying to navigate new waters.

I believe early childhood education is the key to closing the gap and could solve a lot of the problems we see in education today.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I would think they wouldn't know if they needed to do this under AFTER Open Enrollment thus adding to the worry for parents."

Step J, that is what I said.

Tamara, you're right. I know that some schools, especially middle and high school, try to do outreach to parents to let them know about multiple opportunities available to their student under F/RL. I recall our principal asking us to put in the PTSA newsletter.

WS North, that stat has been around a long time and used by the district, LEV, School Board, you name it. Some dispute it because as we all know you can manipulate stats but we are definitely in the lower rungs of funding.

Under the BTA levy, they allegedly will be building 4 new pre-school classrooms in the south end. How they will be funded, I don't know.

TechyMom said...

"I would think they wouldn't know if they needed to do this under AFTER Open Enrollment thus adding to the worry for parents."

Is this the predictability the new SAP was supposed to provide? You may or may not get a full day of schooling, but at least you'll know what building it will be in. Thanks. How helpful.

What are you supposed to do if you have a job? Do the schools that have half-day K have after-care for the rest of the day? Does it cost the same as pay for K? Or does havin a job make you 'priviledged' and therefore not a priority?

SeattleNWMom said...

It's scary to me that some schools may suddenly only offer half day K...after a child has been assigned there. As a working parent, where would my child go after school ends at noon? Are there suddenly going to be a wealth of after school clubs that run from noon? Is the school district communicating to these after school clubs?

Anna B said...

So Highlandpark should we mandate pre school too? And, if so, what age should we mandate kids be enrolled...2 years old, 3 years old? After all without a mandated pre school, kids will be behind in K. Without K they'll be behind in 1st. Geez...

Give parents some credit, please.

Lori said...

Anna, I don't entirely understand your recommendation. You say the state shouldn't mandate K because some children aren't ready for it. Are you then in favor of having kids enter the school system at first grade instead? Or are you in favor of "red-shirting" children and delaying K for a year until they are more ready?

You gave the example of your children going from Waldorf preschool and thriving in Kindergarten, which is a wonderful story, but I'm not following how that makes your point that some children should delay entry to school. Did you hold them back a year before starting Kindergarten?

The issue of red-shirting, of course, is a tangent to this thread and has opinionated folks on both sides of the argument. My intent wasn't to start discussing that. Just want to understand better the argument against mandatory K attendance.

Lori said...

For those with incoming K children who are worried about the potential for 1/2 day K assignments at their assigned/desired school, I would urge you to get involved locally now. Find out when the PTSA meets and if you can attendmeetings. Talk to current parents who are "in the know" about planning for next year. Find out what the other options are for the school instead of 1/2 day K - are there art rooms, music rooms, even portables, that might be considered to manage surge capacity? While final decisions may end up made centrally, it wouldn't hurt to get involved now and find out what the school is hoping happens.

Chris said...

I think Dora's initial comment about K being mandatory is that it being "optional" gives lawmakers a perfect excuse not to fund it. This in turn leads people to have to pay for it, which makes access inequitable.

I do believe there are is an occasional kid who is better off sitting out kindergarten and going straight to first grade - the case I know was a boy with plenty of academic aptitude who was just not developmentally ready to sit still and focus until a year later. Still, a parent in this case could deal with the mandatory-ness the way homeschoolers do, right?

Anna B said...

Lori, I'm in favor of the system that is in place in WA state right now in which Kindergarten is open and available to all who choose it. It is a choice, and voluntarily - it is not mandated.

I respect parents rights. I think parents should be the ones to decide what is in the best interest of their children and whether or not their child is ready for kindergarten. And, if they feel their child is not ready for kindergarten then we should respect that.

It troubles me when people start discussing mandates, and taking away parents rights to choose what is in the best interest of their children. Parents have many choices in the education of their children, and we should respect that.

Patrick said...

I agree that full-day K should be mandatory and paid by the state. Most kids that aren't ready for kindergarten will be even more behind if they wait until 1st grade to enter school. Parents who don't like the public school kindergarten can go to a private school. Kindergarten is the beginning of academic learning, counting, ABCs, basic words, and kids who don't get that will be behind. Granted, most of them can make it up later.

Maybe part of the legislature's response to the underfunding of public education could be fully funding kindergarten. That would also simplify busing.

At Sacajawea in 2006-07, there was one class of full-day kindergarten, one combined class of full-day kindergarten-1st grade, and one class of half-day kindergarten. Almost all of the half-day kindergarten kids were enrolled in the kindergarten arts program in the afternoon, which was organized by the PTA and funded by the parents. The PTA did offer it for free or reduced fees for FRL families.

As far as what SPS can do, I agree with having the fee be standard, now that there's little choice in schools. But I am worried about how much will make it back to the schools.

GreyWatch said...

I can't buy the argument that full day K meets the needs of working parents. If you are a working parent who thinks that school is when your daycare costs will go away, you may be in for a shock.

We live close to our school, and if I do both drop off and pick up of our children, and then commute to work by bus or bike, I can get maybe 5 hour day in at the office (if the busses are on time). 5.5 if I drive and pay for downtown parking. Throw in early dismissal and in-service days, xmas, february and spring breaks and you are lucky to get 20 hours in a week.

You will need to pay one way or another, for before and/or after school care, or full day K, most likely both if you work full time and don't have flexible jobs. Having great neighbors who have one stay at home parent helps. It doesn't ease the parental guilt though.

I also think some 5 year olds are really not ready for 6 hours in a classroom, especially if the focus is on academic achievement and mastering organizational tasks.

TechyMom said...

There's a whole infrastructure for after school care from 3-6PM, including YMCA-type programs, after school classes, etc. (even long bus rides in some cases). This infrastructure also has accomodations for early dismissal, in-service days, and breaks.

There is not a similar infrastructure from 12-3PM. For a working parent, this is a big problem. Remember that kids with working parents have typically been in daycare/preschool for 9-10 hours a day for several years (even their whole lives) before starting K. 6 hours is a breeze for these kids, with the biggest problem being that nap-time moves to after 3pm at the YMCA instead of after lunch at preschool.

This isn't a personal issue for me, as my child is in K this year. I am just frequently astounded at the district's complete disregard for the needs of families, and complete lack of understanding of what life is like for a modern working family. It's right up there with being astounded that there's lousy math instruction and no foriegn languages in elementary school. The district just doesn't "get it", and that makes me crazy.

TechyMom said...

Or, even worse, what if your child is assigned to the afternoon K class? Will the school be offering YMCA care from 9-12 and from 12-3? If they have room for that, why not just use that same classroom for a full-day K class? If they don't have room, I just don't see how a family without a stay-at-home parent can manage half-day K, particularly if it's in the afternoon.

Lori said...

I agree with TechyMom that some schools really are able to accommodate working families. We're at one with on-site afterschool care and a wealth of optional enrichment activities that start as soon as the school day ends.

But, I don't think that all schools offer these opportunities, and at some, spots are limited. We toured a local school 2 years ago whose paperwork claimed there was afterschool care, but learned (only after specifically asking) that there was a waiting list and some families waited a year or more to get a spot.

So what do you do if you are assigned there and can't get into the afterschool program and you don't have a flexible job that you can leave daily prior to 330PM?

And if 1/2 day K is mandated at some schools, will their after-care facilities and programs be available starting at noon for the few children at any given school who might need it? Right now, those programs work because there is a critical mass of children from all grades who participate; that's not necessarily true if you are talking about accommodating one half-day class where only a few will want such a program.

jamie said...

At Laurelhurst all but 5 or so kids in each half day k do the other half Laser (offered in the same portables as the before and after school programs). Some of these families would have chosen the Laser if there were room (capped at a lower number than the k classes), so I don't think there is a big concern that the half day families would dominate. Is there any half day k in all of Seattle that doesn't offer the other half childcare on site or nearby? If so I'm not familiar with it.

TechyMom said...

Even where the school doesn't accomodate it, there are often options at community centers, boys and girls clubs, etc, for care from 6-9AM and from 3-6PM. They also rely on having kids from all grades to fill those classes and pay the teachers. I just don't see how any of these programs, even those that draw from multiple schools, can offer care for a few scattered classes of kindergarteners from 9-12 and from 12-3.

If a school switches to half-day K after open enrollment, K families should be given the option to transer to another school that offers full-day K, with transportation.

RavennaJen said...

On top of this discussion, newly opening schools next year have been told that there will be NO on site child care at all, for any grades. Even McDonald, about to undergo a $15 million remodel, will have no on site care as it is "too expensive." Furthermore, nearby off-site child care facilities (i.e. Boys & Girls Clubs) already have wait lists even before the new schools are opening. Therefore, instead of incoming K families paying $207/month for Pay 4 K and then a nominal amount for on site before/after school care, families may be obligated to arrange their own care in the form of babysitters/nannies (typically, far costlier).

How is this equitable?!

Keepin'On said...

A but OT, so I apologize, but I was wondering about on-site care as well. Isn't one part of "surge capacity" for some popular schools going to be eliminating on=site care facilities if necessary? As well as the other mentioned possibility of not having full day K. I think I remember reading that and thinking, man, oh man, that is going to be a real problem.

I guess one question I have is, why, if they know they could have a problem, and they know they are expecting overflow, and they are planing for all this - WHY didn't you have to forcibly register for Kindergarten in December, after the final maps were approved, so they could have a better idea of what is going to happen?

And I fully oppose having to pay for K at all. Get rid of some of the "coaches" and maybe we would have money for 2 full day kindergartens in every school. Making people pay for kindergarten drives me crazy.

And no one will know until May what is going to happen. Nice job SPS. I thought the new plan was going to make things easier? Faster? Doesn't seem so.

SeattleNWMom said...

I feel fortunate that my child's school has a very good before and after school program. I do know the Boys and Girls Clubs often have long wait lists, and there isn't a guarantee that your child will get in. It doesn't seem like there is much of a plan in place if some schools suddenly move toward half day K.

Catherine said...

If schools do half day K for capacity, what will they do the next year when all those children are in first grade? They can't have half day 1st grade, can they?

LynneC said...

Pay for K is all about inadequate state funding. The state only funds half day K. The district has allocated funds so that each school offered one full day and one half day K. My understanding is that most schools developed a program like LASER at Laurelhurst that filled out the other half of the day with kindergarten-like activities. It's a stand alone program originally developed by the PTA and is a separate entity from the school although it uses portables on-site. Kids who chose to do half day plus LASER or to do just half day were just as prepared as the full day K kids for first grade, because the curriculum requirements for K were concentrated in the half day class, spread out over the course of the day in the full day class, but fulfilled in both cases. Because many families wanted full day the full day class was always maxed out at 28 students, while the half day classes were smaller. Schools that developed pay for K did so because by offering two all day K classes and having parents pay for it through the PTA, they could offer two classes each of which had smaller class sizes. Because the decisions were made by individual schools and the school PTAs, you ended up with a lot of variation from school to school, but arguably that was ok because of school choice. Sounds like what the district is trying to do now is standardize the K offerings at each school, which makes sense given the new SAP. The tricky thing will be what those standardized offerings end up being, given that the state funding issues that started the whole thing in the first place haven't changed!

Jan said...

Though I rarely disagree with Dora, I am with Annie B on this one. Kindergarten should NOT be mandatory. If we want to make it "free" for any who want it, that is different and I will happily pay taxes to support it, but there are MANY (not just a few) kids who are disserved by being stuck in an "academically focused" kindergarten. Not only are many kids not developmentally ready to sit still and learn numbers and letters, and how to stand quietly in line, etc., etc., they ARE developmentally "ready" to be doing other things -- and we waste their time, and squander their lives trying to drill into them at 5 what they will easily (and happily) learn at 7 or 8. I concede that some kids are easily ready for kindergarten at 5 -- but not all.
IF we had more "choice" in schools (the way we did BEFORE the SAP), it might be possible to better "match" kids with programs -- so we would do less harm by stuffing them all into "real school" at the age of 5, where those who are not ready "learn" that they are not very good at school, and that they are "behavior problems" -- and learn to hate school and think of themselves as bad students. Children in Finland don't start "academic" school until 7, and one study found that while English children were ahead of them academically at age 6 (after "academic" kindergarten/preschool), Finnish kids were academically ahead in all areas at age 15.
See: The education standards of six-year-olds in England, Denmark and Finland: an international comparitive study (2003) is available from www.ofsted.gov.uk, reference HMI 1660.
The report highlighted the contrast in the experiences of six-year-olds under two radically different systems. In Finland and Denmark they went to pre-school, where the focus was on their social, physical, interpersonal and moral development. The outcomes of the systems were different. Six-year-olds in England were generally well ahead of those in Denmark and Finland in terms of the three Rs. However, by the age of 15, according to a international survey, Finnish children outperformed all others in reading and mathematical and scientific literacy.
If "fairness" demands that we make it free (it is not free in Germany or other places), so be it. But it should not be seen as "mandatory" unless we are prepared to grapple with the disconnect between "school" as it is now delivered, and the social, emotional, and academic developmental needs of small children (and not "normed" groups of them -- but of EACH small child).
And while I suppose it is possible to get to this result by forcing every family that doesn't want their child to enter structured school at five to apply to "homeschool," I think the current system -- where parents can send their kids if they want to, or leave their kids in preschool, or keep them at home and do playdates and informal stuff -- is far preferable.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Following up on Lynne's remarks, I think that it used to be the reasoning for having half-day K and full-day K -that some kids are ready and some aren't. (I personally held back one son because he had a late birthday AND was destined to be short. It worked out fine.) The half-day K had a short 2 1/2 hour morning that was a good taste of reading and colors and friends and for people who wanted more (either time or more academics) well, that was what full-day K was for.

Now I don't know. But I think that the train has really left the station on whether it's good for kids. I'm mean now we want to mandate accessible pre-school for free/reduced lunch kids on the idea that too many kids come to school way behind others. There's another good article I have and I'll spin off a thread from it.

Anna B said...

Yes, there is talk of mandating that the district makes accessable preschool available to all FRL families, and that's a good thing. However nobody can mandate that frl families take advantage of it or send their kids to it. Participation would, and should be, voluntary.

I think this is a crucial piece in closing the achievement gap. But parents of course should be able to choose whether or not they want to take advantage of it.

GreyWatch said...

Thanks Jan for bringing up the Finnish study - I hope it continues to get press.

Unfortunately, I think Melissa is right -- the train has left the station and the shortsighted thinking is that if kids could only be better prepared for Kindergarten all the other pieces would fall into place.

A counter to TechyMom's point that a 6 hour day of K is a cakewalk for kids that have been in 8 or 9 hour daycare: It could be if they were spending more time on play and age appropriate activities, not to mention the fact that they must do homework when they finally do get home.

I worry that the the push for more pre-school and kindergarten readiness programs will be a failed attempt to fix to a problem they have no idea how to address.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I guess one question I have is, why, if they know they could have a problem, and they know they are expecting overflow, and they are planing for all this - WHY didn't you have to forcibly register for Kindergarten in December, after the final maps were approved, so they could have a better idea of what is going to happen?"

Yes indeedy, a good question. If kindergarten is such a question mark, it probably would have been better for all concerned to enroll earlier so the district could start making plans sooner. (And, of course, parents can plan for what they need to do.)

Maybe they couldn't have done it with the VAX. I don't know.

But it could be quite the chaotic free-for-all if the district decides, say in May, that half of the NE schools (and maybe a few elsewhere) will only have half-day K. Would that cause an exodus to those schools that have room at full-day K? If you had many parents at one school who needed some kind of day-care, how could that be handled? Not on-site because with the capacity surge plan, every available space might be taken up. Maybe at a nearby church or community center? I would hope the district, because they are the ones sending this into motion, might at least take the lead.

FYI, Seattle Metropolitan magazine is writing a story on the new SAP and its issues. I tried to help them fill in the blanks and the reporter was pretty surprised at how much seems to be up in the air even after you have a finished plan and transition plan.

GreyWatch said...

... and while I agree with Jan on approach, I don't agree that the old system provided true choice.

When my 6 year old son became a "behavior problem" and a "school hater" I felt my only guaranteed option was private school. Yes, I could have put his name on a long wait list to a school that was on the other side of town only to never get in. Fortunately, we had the means to make the choice that met our needs.

Megan Mc said...

Regarding on-site child care. The state has new liscencing reguirements for before and after school care providers and most of the older buildings in seattle don't qualify. The distict told our principal it will cost $780,000 in building upgrades to be eligible to have on-site care. Nice to know our crppy building is good enough for SPS but not for the state! I heard Lowell ran into the same problem. There will be a major shortage of childcare options if schools can't expand.

TechyMom said...

From what I've heard, the daycare requirements deal with a lot of issues that are related to sanitation for kids in diapers. I think that causing problems for after-school daycares was an unintended consequence of a law designed for preschoolers. I intend to write my representatives about this, and ask that daycares which only serve school-age kids be held to the same standard as elementary schools, not daycares babies.

Lowell actually has diapering facilities because some of the kids in special ed need them, so once the sprinklers are in, I am hopeful that Lowell will actually meet the new standards. That said, it's silly to apply diapering rules to a school-age daycare.

Marie said...

The statistic is actually that Washington is 42 in the nation in per pupil spending. Not sure if that is still the case, it was several years ago when the NEWS lawsuit started that the number was used as part of the arguement that the state wasn't providing the required "ample" funding for education. The state only pays for a half-day K, there is no additional money specifically for FRL elligbile or Title I schools to get full-day K, though SPS did choose to use some of its Title I money to support full-day K.

The real issue is that the state isn't fully funding education, and should be paying for all day K. Or 6 periods of high school a day rather than 5.

All of the debate over the math case worries me that people missed the bigger decision that came out that day. The people you should be lobbying not to appeal is the Gov and local legislators.

Jen said...

Question about 1/2 day K. I live in NE Seattle, I only have anecdotal information from friends who have had kindergarteners. Basically they've all said that 1/2 day kindergarten doesn't really exist (except 1 Laurelhurst class.) This is because the majority of kids enroll for full-day. The very few kids that enroll for 1/2 day miss out on so much (parties, other activities) or get behind in school work (?) that the parent then switches them to full-day near the beginning of the school year.

Is this true? Are there statistics about enrollment for 1/2 or full-day kindergarten from the past few years.

Is there a need for 1/2 day? Do parents ask the school for more 1/2 day classes so that their kid is with other 1/2 day kids? I can honestly say I don't know anyone with a kid in 1/2 day.

*My opinion is that there should be more 1/2 day kids because they aren't ready to be in the classroom for a full day, but come on 2.5 hours? That is too little time. Neither option is great in my opinion. Also the whole 1/2 day afternoon kindergarten. Really? I can't think of many people that would want their kid's academic day to begin after noon. Mandate or no, my kid would never go to afternoon 1/2 day kindergarten.

Anna B said...

As amother who has for years had to awaken on school mornings at 630A-7, wake kids, make and pack lunches, make breakfast, wash the dishes, comb hair, check backpacks, and rush the kids out the door.....all by 8:30AM...I think I would have LOVED a half day afternoon K option!
Ahhhhh........

Jen said...

Touche.

StepJ said...

Jen - the rub of all of this is we really don't know what is about to transpire as this will be the first year of the new assignment plan.

Any child at an entry level grade (such as K) is guaranteed a seat at a school based on their address. The new boundaries were drawn with some best guesses and some known data. But, until school starts in September they (District and us) won't know how many K kids will need to be accommodated. If they (District) thought maybe 70 kids would show but it turns out to be 150 then kachow -- your school will have nothing but half day K. What has been done in past years will not make a difference.

As others have said...in the long-term this strategy does not make sense as there is no half day 1st grade, etc. How will all of these kids move on through the school? Perhaps the District planners are just trying to buy time to make adjustments to boundaries and have another year to figure things out?

Latest word on the street is that the enrollment forms will not specify full or half day K - just list an option for Kindergarten. That way no promises are broken - right? You just registered for Kindergarten - not full or half day. So as our K teacher tells the kids -- "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."

I believe MGJ's contract is not up until 2012 or 2013? As she doesn't think class sizes matter (no big deal if your kid has to sit on the radiator to attend class), and seemingly does not care about the impact of perpetual uncertainty to students and families it is likely to be quite the turbulent ride for the next few years.

Perhaps frequent boundary changes to keep your elementary kids perpetually assigned to separate schools? Just my jaded thought pattern – but parents please be aware that enrolling in your attendance area school does not guarantee that younger brother and/or sister will be guaranteed a place in the same school.

Boundary changes may occur annually and with it your certainty.

Parents – you might want to follow MGJ’s lead in enrolling your oldest elementary age child in an Option School. That might be one school type that can provide a full day K as enrollment is optional vs. guaranteed. If you get a good lottery number you are in! Plus, even if the boundaries change for your attendance area school you have almost certain entry for younger siblings to an Option school as all seats are open for enrollment and sibling is the first tie breaker. Sibling Preference lives on at Option Schools.

But please fill out your paperwork correctly. List an Option school as your first and only choice. That way you do not give up your seat at your Attendance Area school if you don’t get into your Option School choice. Be careful parents. The playing field is neither level nor tilted in your favor.

zb said...

"Boundary changes may occur annually and with it your certainty."

I do not believe that boundary lines will be changed annually. I do believe that schools will have "overcrowding" at levels they haven't had under the old SAP.

I think blaming this on MGJ is foolish. She was chosen by the school board to implement changes to a "neighborhood" school system.

StepJ said...

I hope you're right zb. It would be wonderful if both MGJ and the Board had our backs.

I would gladly be the "fool" for all of Seattle if it meant certainty and peace of mind for parents.

wv: "twinsio" -- Twins got me into this but perhaps with the twins/multiples guarantee I have repaid?

Anna B said...

"I believe MGJ's contract is not up until 2012 or 2013? As she doesn't think class sizes matter (no big deal if your kid has to sit on the radiator to attend class)"

Yet she chose the New School for her child next year - with it's unprecidented small class size and private funding. Go figure...

Maureen said...

New School (now "South Shore") is nominally the Option School for the SE but only offered ONE tour--on February 4th--well before the beginning of Open Enrollment.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Latest thing I hear (from a good source) is that the district isn't going to send transportation letters when you get your assignment. Oh, you can go look it up on the website but for some reason, they won't be including it in the assignment letter. That said, they are also beefing up customer service which is great but boy, are those people going to hear about it.

Maureen said...

Did they ever send transportation letters with your assignment? I thought they didn't come until the very end of August or even the beginning of September.

Do 1/2 day K students get transportation in the middle of the day (either home from a.m. K or to p.m. K)?

jamie said...

Yes they do. They offered to send a bus midday for my son but I declined, as did the other few eligible families, as a diesel bus (or taxi cab) for one child is a little ridiculous, even if it's a short one.

Maureen said...

Ok, this is what I was looking for: It costs $52,000 a year to run a school bus; half of a FTE K teacher costs about $40,000. If they run even one extra bus (and remember they have to get all of the kids home within the one hour time limit)the District is losing money by pushing families to half day K.

This doesn't necessarily apply to the schools with capacity issues--they don't really have a choice if they need seats for a certain number of kids, but for schools that are charging just to make revenue it's a losing proposition. Unless all of the kids are within the school's walk zone, they will save money in the instruction budget, but lose it on transportation.

StepJ said...

Thanks for the numbers Maureen.

I have recently started to have the concern that the mention of half day K in the Transition Plan may not be to address capacity but perhaps a way to disguise some intended teacher RIFs?

Half day K appeared as a possibility in the Transition Plan at the eleventh hour along with the reduction of grandfathered transportation from five years to two.

Just the fact that half day K was inserted at the last moment bothers me - something doesn't seem quite right.

Using your example Maureen - what if a school normally has three full day K classes but that is altered for 2010 so the school offers one full day class and two half day classes? Suddenly, you have a full FTE K position to be eliminated. The norm. is to have one teacher take on two half day classes vs. one teacher per half day class.

In that scenario there would be more operational savings than transportation savings as a full FTE K teacher at $80k would take a bigger bite out of the budget than the $52k for a yellow bus.

Is this how sums will be siphoned from schools around the District to provide the currently undefined monies for STEM?

I feel odd going all conspiracy theory. I just can't shake that something isn't quite right with how half day K was tossed into the Transition Plan and am trying to figure it out.

Anonymous said...

I'm not seeing enough about the fact that it's simply not legal. As always it's the middle class that get's hammered again.It is a constitutional right of my children to be offered an equal opportunity to education. Equal opportunity goes both ways. It is not just set up to protect the impoverished. My choices are either pay for something that I have already been paying over the last 22 years of hard work and paying taxes or my child get's 3 hours a day of school. It's B.S. to think that ALL of us can afford this just because we don't fit the school districts model of poor. I don't want the free lunches. I would rather those go to the children who truly need them, but seriously It's called PUBLIC education because the public has always and continues to pay for it already. Stop the madness. It is not our fault that the state cannot run their own business. I'm NOT paying and in a month and a half when they try to kick my 2 kids out I'll have ALL the paperwork ready to sue City public Schools and Superintendent
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.
Please join me in questioning this illegal act by writing to the district, state legislature, and Goodloe herself.
G father of 3
West Seattle

Anonymous said...

I elected to go half day with two of my kids in a pay-for-K school. Apparently, this year, my child is the only half-timer out of 4 kindergarten classes. I find this shocking. How can people afford pay-for-K? We are a one income family and do own a home, so we are paying some serious property taxes to this region. I'm so frustrated that my child is not by default eligible to go full-day. Imagine the pressure half-timers to go full-day. I'm sure its very annoying to the teacher to accommodate a sole half-timer; I'd feel the same way. But, that's our family circumstances. Two years ago, I went half-day with my other child. He's in 2nd grade now and is on grade for all subjects. His 1st grade teacher told me she did not see a difference in him compared to all her other kids -- and did not detect that he did half-day kindergarten. So all the arguments that a half-timer will be behind all the other kids is nonsense. Its glorified babysitting. Im a stay-home mom and need not have my child for $2070 a year. I'd like to see this whole thing rectified before my other two kids become kindergarteners.

Angela said...

So there are others like us! We can't figure out how it can be legal to charge for public school or how other parents are able to pay it.

My daughter is one of three kids doing half-day at Bryant where there are five full-day classes.

She is getting left out of a lot of the fun stuff. Even though that makes us really sad for her, she doesn't seem to be suffering. We're staying positive about all the things we can do as a family in the extra time and kinda "homeschooling" the things she's missing. That's working for now.