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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pay for K?

Seattle schools are going through or finishing up their budget process right now. One budget problem all K-5 and K-8 schools have to deal with is the fact that the state only pays for a half day of kindergarten; Schools who offer a full day (most of them), have to pay for those FTE’s somehow.



In past years, most north end schools use a “Pay for K” scheme, with varying amounts paid each month by families. Most south end schools have not. For schools that have not had a Pay for K scheme, federal Title 1 funds apparently have been used to make up the difference, since many of them have the required high percentage of FRL (Free and Reduced Lunch) students. But even some schools without Title 1 funds have managed to avoid Pay for K.



This year things seem to be different, for a variety of reasons. One, the state budget shortfall has seriously affected the district, and school budgets are feeling the pain. Two, the percentage of FRL required to get Title 1 funds has increased. Three, the closures and consolidations have resulted in situations where schools that in the past would qualify for Title 1 no longer do.



Our school is strongly considering a Pay for K program. I’m interested in hearing if there are any other schools who have not had such a program in the past now suddenly having to consider it, or if schools are needing to increase the amount they are getting from families each month.



Here is a spreadsheet, based on the 2009-10 enrollment guide, with each school’s “Pay for K” comments. I’m guessing some of these might not now be accurate.

65 comments:

Maureen said...

I have a few questions. Maybe someone out there could answer some of them and/or point me to the person at SPS who could help me.

Who is responsible for collecting the monthly fees? Are they sent directly to the District or would the school's parents or staff collect and account for them?

What happens if a family refuses to pay? What if enough refuse that the amount collected does not cover the cost of the teacher? Who is responsible for making people pay? What are the consequences for not paying? At some point will children be expelled from school or the teacher fired?

anonymous said...

At Thornton Creek they only offered full day K, no 1/2 day, so everyone was expected, except families eligible for free and reduced rate lunch had to pay. We made our checks out to our school Site Council. There were a few families who refused to pay based on their philosophical opposition. There was nothing the school could do to enforce their payment.

Sahila said...

I'm on the BLT at AS#1... had to miss yesterday's budget setting meeting, but although we have lost Title 1 money, as far as I know there has been no discussion about making parents pay for our all day Kindergarten programme... other, long term AS#1 parents please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think its been free forever - the school community sees it as a question of access and equity and a commitment to and an investment in early childhood education...

north seattle mom said...

All schools have one funded full day K classroom. I think this money comes from the families and education levy.

So many schools have one full day K class and then 1-2 half day classrooms. In this case, the school is not incurring any additional expense for the full day K classroom and therefore they both can't and don't charge for this program.

As the mechanics, typically the funds are donated into the parent bank account. Then at some point in the year, the district will invoice the school for the difference between what they were budgeted for and what they spent. At this point someone from the parent group typically writes a check.

In many cases, principals can choose to cover the extra expense of the unfunded half of K out of building funds but those funds are rapidly shrinking.

whittier07 said...

I think Johnny's spreadsheet accidentally cut off some of Whittier's information ... we do waive the pay for K for FRL students and we also offer PTA scholarships to cover the fee. :)

Megan Mc said...

I think another reason as1 has kept all day k free is because we had mixed k classes. We will not be charging for k next year even if we end up with a stand alone class again.

Anonymous said...

Two comments: First, the biggest problem that I can see with pay for K is that there is a wide range of families who do not qualify for free lunches, but still don't earn enough to be able to afford $200 per month or so. There should be some partial reduction for people in this category, not just all or nothing.

My other comment is that at TOPS, the program is actually somewhat different that the typical Pay for K, as the money collected goes specifically to pay the salary of a 3rd kindergarten teacher who works 20 hours per week - it doesn't just disappear into the school budget to offset the shortfall in state funding.

Anonymous said...

I've honestly never understood how Pay for K is "constitutional" or why it has not been challenged in the courts especially since the fee varies from school to school. How is it that I pay $170/mo this year at Bryant while friends a few blocks away have to pay $250/mo at View Ridge? That's almost 50% higher! Given that we can be assigned to schools outside our reference area against our choice, shouldn't the fee at least be set by the district to be equal?

Plus, if we can "Pay for K" what is to stop schools from adding "pay for art", or "pay for library", and collecting money from families monthly to restore or bolster services lost in tough economic times? Next year when I'm no longer paying $170/month for K, it would be easy to pay, say, $50/month to make sure we can keep a full-time librarian instead of cutting her hours. But certainly that wouldn't be fair because not every family at every school could do this.

I'm not saying I want to see us go down this slippery slope. I'm just pointing out how strange it is to assess parents a monthly tuition for services that the district thinks are important but fails to fund.

BTW, friends and family around the country are shocked when I tell them that I have to pay each month for my daughter to go to public school! Does this happen anywhere else in the country?

hschinske said...

Are all of these actually paying for kindergarten, or for an extended day in the onsite daycare? It used to be that Whittier had a full-day kindergarten and a half-day program, and if you wanted full-day but couldn't get in, you had the option of paying for half a day in the daycare's program. That seems quite different to me than paying for a program with the school's own kindergarten teacher.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

I think I was told (years ago) that schools can charge for K because kids aren't legally required to be enrolled in school until 1st grade so K can be treated more like an optional preschool(?). (I may be making that up).

The Kidde Woodward Family said...

We had to deal with this at Orca last year, and it was a huge decision. The PTA wound up voting to fund the 1/2 FTE as a lump sum instead of having Pay for K. There were strong arguments on both sides. I'd be happy to forward you some of the info we used to help educate parents prior to the vote.
Mikala

anonymous said...

No Helen, the "tuition" is not for before or after school care, it is for full day kindergarten. At Thornton Creek they only offered full day K, there was no 1/2 day k option, so every family had to pay "tuition". It was $125 a month back then (5 years ago), but has since gone up considerably.

And BTW IAK, my family in Florida didn't believe that I paid tuition for kindergarten either. They were shocked and had never heard of it and thought it unconstitutional. Everyone K family at our school was expected pay, but the school had no recourse if a family didn't pay. There were a few families that didn't pay based on their philosophical opposition to such a thing (paying for public school) and the school couldn't do anything about it.

The way the District gets away with it, is that they fulfill their responsibility by paying for one 1/2 day k, and one full day k for each school. However, most families want full day k. So to fulfill the demand schools can enhance their k program and make all classrooms full day but have to do so at their own expense. Since middle class schools get very little "extra" discretionary funds, they have to collect "tuition". Lower income schools that get "extra" discretionary funds (Title I and LAP) use it to pay for K, and are able to avoid charging their families "tuition".

Unknown said...

i'm not sure i'd characterize pay for k as "the district getting away with it" - if the money isn't coming from the state for things families want, what is the district supposed to do?

the state has definitely gotten a pass over the last decade - everyone blames the district for cuts and decisions made, and while sometimes that's appropriate or is related to the unions, a lot of times it's funding from the state that drives things.

we write (or wrote) our pay for k checks to the school itself (not pta, site council or asb) and submit them to the school secretary - i don't know what account they are deposited in - but the money is used to fund the k staff over and above one full day k (our school has 2)

Unknown said...

ps - at our elementary school, i'm pretty sure frl families are exempted from pay for k, and others can request assistance.

Unknown said...

ps - at our elementary school, i'm pretty sure frl families are exempted from pay for k, and others can request assistance.

north seattle mom said...

Fair is often in the eye of the beholder. Pay for K arose at many schools out of a sense of "fairness."

While all schools had ONE full day K class and 1-3 half day classes, parents complained about the "unfairness." Only a limited number of families were able to participate in the full day K program and families that were assigned to the half day class would be required to pay for after-school care by and third party provider if they wanted full day.

Many parents felt that it was "unfair" that they paid for their child to receive six hours of school when other kids got six hours without paying. Additionally, the full day kids received an integrated curriculum with one K teacher while the other students got enrichment.

In many cases, pay for K, was less expensive than the on-site before and after care programs. So pay for K became a "fair" thing as the district only pays for full day K at title one schools.

The reason why pay for K charges vary so widely is because the district does not have a standard charge for a half day K teacher. The schools are charged based on the actual cost of the teacher. So if your school has more experienced senior teachers, it costs more. If you school has a brand new teacher, it costs less.

Another reason it varies is that often the building principal will use some building funds to subsidize the program. When a family doesn't pay either for any reason, the school still needs to use funds to reimburse the district. The district does not say, oh well, you had 10 FRL students, we are going to reduce your bill. Nope. That comes from building funds or parent fundraising.

Johnny Calcagno said...

sigrunc said:

My other comment is that at TOPS, the program is actually somewhat different that the typical Pay for K, as the money collected goes specifically to pay the salary of a 3rd kindergarten teacher who works 20 hours per week - it doesn't just disappear into the school budget to offset the shortfall in state funding.

That's been true in the past. Unfortunately for next year TOPS will mostly likely have to (also) include some form of a standard Pay for K scheme, probably with some PTA subsidy and a sliding scale.

Jet City mom said...

doesn't Tacoma have free all-day kindergarten in all elementary schools ?

I guess wanting to increase school readiness for all students is all hat and no cattle in Seattle

washingtonpolicywatch.org/2008/03/03/full-day-kindergarten-on-the-menu-in-tacoma/

hschinske said...

I looked around, and paying for kindergarten is not that uncommon -- I found examples in five or six states without really trying very hard. Not to say it's right, but we're definitely not the only ones.

I remember hearing from a woman in Issaquah that her public school's kindergarten program was 2.5 hours four days a week -- no school on Wednesdays. There are even districts that have no public kindergarten at all.

Helen Schinske

anonymous said...

Yes, I guess there are worse circumstances than pay for k, like no K at all, or 2.5 hours a day of K 4 days a week, but that still doesn't make pay for K right or acceptable in a public school. And it doesn't make it OK for one school to charge tuition, and another school not to charge. Or one school to charge $300 a month, and another to charge $90 a month. And it doesn't end at pay for K either.

Here is a list of what I paid at Thornton Creek:

$1125/YR for kindergarten (it has since gone up)

$250 at the beginning of every year to cover school supplies and camping trips (the school took each class on two camping trips per year).

$200 average per year on field trips. At Thornton Creek families paid for their own field trips and the classes went on an average of 1 field trip per week.

$200 per year for instrumental music in 4th and 5th grades.

And lets not forget that these are all "mandatory" fees. Not optional, not fundraising, not voluntary. But mandatory.

And on top of all of the "mandatory" fees, there is fundraiser after fundraiser that parents are expected to contribute to (the auction, the walkathon, bookfair, winter bazaar).

It really is exorbitant, and we are setting a precedent here. What else will we have to pay for? Real Math? Science (if you want more than a kit)? Where does it end?

The Kidde Woodward Family said...

It ends when the state fund full day kindergarten, and everything else it should be paying for.

If you're mad about this, call your legislator.

Dorothy Neville said...

Compulsory education in Washington State starts at age 8. (unless it have very recently been changed.) Therefore, no mandate for the state to pay for kindergarten. No mandate to send your child either.

(Those are the facts, please don't consider that my opinion as well.)

Sahila said...

In Australia and New Zealand, kindergarten is considered preschool and is provided (at a very, very nominal fee) by the state outside of the formal school system... it has a curriculum based on emergent learning through play and trained early childhood education teachers...

In New Zealand, you sign your child up on their 2nd birthday and they begin going three afternoons/week when they turn three. When they turn 4, they go five mornings/week... so when they go to school (on their 5th birthday generally, although the law doesnt require attendance until they are 6), most children are socialised to a learning environment and many are already at the point of being ready to read, write and work with many early math concepts...

Other families might choose Playcentre for their children, which is a similar concept but centred on a parent-run/involved co-op model, charging a minimal fee and still with trained teachers in place...

In New Zealand also, there are Kohanga Reos operating all around the country (Maori language nests) where children (Maori and non-Maori - Pakeha = white) which are Maori language/culture immersion preschools....

There are also private preschools, many of which are Montessori or Waldorf/Steiner-based... there are now Steiner schools/high schools in both New Zealand and Australia...

Dorothy Neville said...

AdHoc, I would remind you that TC was optional. You chose the school, therefore none of those fees were mandatory. You could always have chosen a different school without the amenities offered at TC.

That said, the figures are interesting. $200 a year to cover about 30+ field trips is pretty good value. It sort of looks like TC may be in the range of raising $1000 per child, counting all of this and fundraising. Isn't that the shockingly high number given for a different elementary on a different thread? Difference is that that elementary is a reference area school, not an alternative one. Still, interesting.

Dorothy Neville said...

"Many parents felt that it was "unfair" that they paid for their child to receive six hours of school when other kids got six hours without paying. Additionally, the full day kids received an integrated curriculum with one K teacher while the other students got enrichment."

Another source of unfairness was that the full day kindergarten was considered as a separate line on enrollment form, a "program." Therefore, the usual tie-breakers occurred. At Bryant (and I suspect other large elementaries) the full day program would completely fill with siblings.

I have issues with sibling priority for any alternative program, but I suspect I hold the minority view here. I just don't see why an alternative (choice) program with long waiting lists should offer sibling priority. Would be a lot fairer for all kids to be part of the lottery for admission. However, that's a different topic.

In this case though, sibling priority was clearly abused, because, while it is arguable that siblings should get priority assignment at the same school for the convenience of the family, one cannot make the same argument that the younger siblings ought to get priority seats in a designated classroom within that school.

The upshot was that the full day kindergarten was full with younger siblings and the half day program heavily weighted with first and only children, with a few scattered younger siblings that the parent thought too immature for full day kindergarten.

Did the switch to Pay for K change that? Are kindergarten classrooms now balanced with younger siblings and children in families new-to-the-school?

anonymous said...

Yes, Dorothy, I did choose TC, but now my son is at Bryant, a neighborhood, reference school, and it's not much different. The pay for K "tuition" is going up to $240 per month next year. We pay for most field trips (but they don't go on near as many as TC), we pay $200 a year for instrumental music, and we paid $250 for 5th grade camping.

Plus we have even higher fundraising expectations (auction, bake sales, Bryant Blast, gift wrap, etc)

For a middle class family like mine, this is a lot of money. While we manage to pay it, it is taxing, and I question how much is too much? How much burden can we put on families? Like I said will we pay for Singapore books? Will we pay for science to supplement kits? Will we pay for art, music, library? Where is the line?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the historical perspective, North Seattle Mom.

I can definitely see the problem with some kids getting "free" full day K while everyone else got only half-day K. And I do understand that differential pricing is related to each individual school's budget.

But I'm still with AdHoc that it just seems strange, almost illegal, to have this sort of set-up in a public school system. Shouldn't the solution have been that all schools offer only half-day K if that's all the district could afford and there is no legal mandate to educate until age 8 anyway?

And why stop with K? Art is not offered beyond 3rd grade, I think, at my daughter's school, so why not just keep charging me $170/month each year to fund art for all grades, and so on. If there is no legal mandate to fund art, but parents want it and will pay for it, why not? The precedent has been set.

seattle citizen said...

Dorothy, a difference I see between the 1000 or so spent at TC vs the 1000 or so ("shockingly high") spent at another elementary is that at TC it was for "enrichment" while at that other school it was for actual classrooms and teachers.

Not commenting on either practive, just pointing out a difference.

But maybe it's not a difference: TC values the feild trip, the other school values smaller class size...same amount of non-district funding, different priorities.

hmmm,,,,,

anonymous said...

Actually the year we left TC they had begun to use fundraised $$$ to pay for a part-time math teacher which reduced class sizes to 15 kids in math for 3-5th grade. Not sure if they still do it, that was a few years ago???

AutismMom said...

Adhoc, I just don't get it. I thought you were all about the school's rights to collect money and the school's right to do with it as they please. And if some school's have 21 in a class and others have 33 in class... well, those poor schools should just get off their butts and work a lot harder on their fundraising.

Pay-for-K IS still voluntary, even if it looks mandatory. It is in reality, just another form of fundraising. You could always decide not to pay. Then what? Are they going to kick you out? I doubt it. I doubt they could. And even if they could, it would be a huge hassle and expense to squeeze blood out of that turnip. They'd have to sue you and win, then they'd have to sue you again to collect... your kid would have already graduated from high school by then.

Ok. A few other states have pay for K.... but even the state of Georgia has universal preschool. That is, if you are FRL.... you get FREE, state run, accredited, preschool with transportation... others have to pay (as they do everywhere else). It's pretty shocking that Washington doesn't even really pay for universal kindergarten.. and Georgia guarantees preschool.

I realize we do have a few ECAP (state funded Early Childhood Assistance Program) preschools... but not many, and not universal.

Johnny Calcagno said...

My understanding about Pay for K is that the school itself is on the hook for whatever shortfall occurs because parents haven't paid. That means I think laying off of staff or other budget cutting at some point during the school year. So although you might be mad at the District, the state, the feds, etc, it is your school that will suffer.

Dorothy Neville said...

AdHoc, the 5th grade camping trip is optional, I would imagine. You are under no obligation to have your child attend, yes? As for instrumental music, that was optional as well, when my son was in elementary school. Some kids got pulled out of class for it, but it was not the whole class, not scheduled for the class. Is that different at Bryant, or is instrumental music also an optional program?

The thing is, early childhood education is a good thing. Most people think kindergarten is a good thing. Our president has been talking about increasing funding for early childhood education. However, our state does not adequately fund kindergarten. The law in Washington is Compulsory education for children ages 8 to 18. Therefore, when push comes to shove, unless that changes, unless the state gets rich, unless the president's budget includes more funding for early childhood education, the state will not be adequately funding kindergarten.

Seattle Citizen, that's a good question, isn't it? What qualifies as enrichment vs basic education. Something to think about.

anonymous said...

Autismom, I feel that the feds, the state, and the district, have forced middle class schools to have to fund themselves.

Middle class schools that fundraise and charge tuition get basic services like full day K, art, music, field trips, school supplies....

schools that don't fundraise and charge tuition get a bare bones, no frills school, shell of a school, that does not offer full day K, art, music, field trips, school supplies......

At this point schools can't stop fundraising or charging tuition. They have been forced to do it. And, until schools are fully funded I think they should be allowed to continue fundraising.

I pay my share. But I don't like it, and I will continue to pressure the powers that be and advocate for fully funded schools.

anonymous said...

Yes, Dorothy, music, camping, school supplies and field trips are all optional. You can certainly opt your kid out of them if you can't afford to pay and don't want a hand out. But how sad would it be to have a child miss out on a field trip or camping because they couldn't afford it - when the entire class was going. But, yes, you are right, it is optional.

North End Mom said...

Word of advice here, as Johnny pointed out, some of this information is incorrect by now. Please check with the individual school to see what the pay for K program will cost for next year. All schools should have that figure, since the budgets are now known.

From what I understand, the costs vary per school because of the senority of the kindergarten teacher whose salary is essentially being covered by the pay for K. For example, if the View Ridge Kindergarten teacher has more senority (and a higher salary) than say the Bryant teacher, then the View Ridge pay for K program will cost more per student than the Bryant program, and so on.

Also, I think it is pretty standard for Pay for K costs to be waived for students who qualify for free/reduced lunch. It is mentioned as one of the "perks" in the notice that goes out with the applications for free/reduced lunch.

At my child's school, checks are written to the school, not to the PTA, and they are collected by the school secretary.

This is definitely an issue that is worth writing your legislator about. Very few parents actually send their children to half-day kindergarten.

seattle citizen said...

Dorothy, the cynical side of me sadly says that Reading, Writing, Math and Science are basic. Everything else is now enrichment.

History, art, music, theater, metal shop, wood shop, home-ec, drafting, business, CTE, AP, IB, APP, ALO, CDB?, ICDB!, Projecto Saber...enrichment.

Read, write, calculate, hypothesize at a tenth-grade level? Basic.

seattle citizen said...

But your question, Dorothy (my cynicism aside) is a good one: What should the base level of general ed be? (I'm not including Special Ed and other necessary adjuncts because these are more specialized. Others could certainly comment on these, too.)

new thread?

seattle citizen said...

"...how sad would it be to have a child miss out on a field trip or camping because they couldn't afford it "

Sadly, I'll bet twenty percent of seniors in this city have never been camping. That's why I'll put a plug in here for a) Islandwood, on Bainbridge, which does a very good job in reaching out to Seattle kids who can't afford it, providing scholarship for overnight and longer stays at their wonderful environmental learning center (courtesy of the Brainerds, who made a little money developing Adobe, and wanted to give back to the community...
and b) the North Cascades Institute, which does a smiilar thing in their very cool ELC on the shores of Diablo Lake on Route 20, high in the North Cascades...

I won't even go into the question of whether these services should be spread around ALL students in a district ("here, here's your three minute camping experience!") I guess by valuing these scholarships, I undercut my position on public education funding...aurrghhh! Life is so complicated!

Sahila said...

Basic education is what used to be taught to transition the agrarian workforce into an industrial workforce... read just enough to follow written instructions and follow the clock, add/subtract just enough to keep the machines going and to turn out a product, write just enough to sign for your wages.... anything more than that was considered a waste on the filthy masses...

True education, in the Greek sense, was reserved for the (generally) male rich - languages, history, science, art, music, 'the grand tour' of Europe etc....

We havent really come very far - what kids now are offered as a basic public education is just enough to get them into the (slightly more sophisticated, skilful) labour pool when they grow up.... you want something more than that for your child? Well then, dig deep in your own (individual and collective) pockets...

zb said...

"How is it that I pay $170/mo this year at Bryant while friends a few blocks away have to pay $250/mo at View Ridge? "

I wondered about this, too. Could View Ridge decide it wants to charge $500/month? Is there some guide or bound? Another uncovered weirdness about SPS that continue to astonish me.

When we got the pay-for-K form, it told us that if you didn't pay the fee (and weren't eligible for FRL), your child would need to be picked up after the official time end for 1/2 day K (11:30 or something like that). Our school had no 1/2 day option. There was an implication that if you didn't pay, but left your kid in school, that they could sic the collection agencies after you.

It gave us an incentive to tell them that our child would not be attended our assigned school.

Maureen said...

How can they require you to pick up your child? They provide busing for 1/2 day K don't they? Aren't they (shouldn't they be) obligated to send a bus (cab?) for your kid if you are assigned to a school and don't choose to pay for full day K? There are so few half day Ks available anymore, are they really requiring everyone to send their kids to full day AND pay for the privilege?

anonymous said...

I called Bryant today to ask what the pay for K tuition would be for next year, and was told by the secretary that they are "standardizing" the fee for all NE cluster schools next year. It will be either $240 or $250 per month next year, and all schools will charge the same. Not sure if this is accurate, I haven't verified, but this comes directly from the Bryant school office.

north seattle mom said...

Well, if they are standardizing the fee at $250, I have a HUGE problem with that. Because the actual cost of half day K is not $250. The reason many schools charge less than $200 is because the cost to that school is less than $200. Charging $250 in my opinion is trying to stabilize market rates and therefore many schools would make a profit on this fee. Where does that money go?

Bryant is a great example of a very ethical school with this practice. They have changed their price every year based on their actual costs. They used to me in the low $200s and then when their senior teacher (presumably most expensive) retired and was replaced with less senior teacher (presumably less expensive) they lowered the cost of Pay for K for that year to $170. I found that level of integrity very refreshing.

$250 is not the cost so does that extra money to to the school budget or does it now go to the district and can the district deal with it.

My bet is that this change came about because of Jane Addams. Jane Addams had advertised Pay for K at $250 which was higher than everyone else for a brand new untested program. If the district had had any sense at all they would have made full day K free and given folks a reason to pick the school.

Maureen said...

The "everyone else is doing it" thing feels very lemming-like to me (If all your friends jumped off a cliff...). Are principals being pressured to drink the koolaid? Where DOES the extra money go?

north seattle mom said...

Maureen, in the NE cluster, they are pretty much requiring you to Pay for K. Laurelhurst is the only school that does not have Pay for K and has an actual real half day K program. However, they had 30 student in both the morning and afternoon K program this year. (not their choice at all but that is what happened)

AFAIK, if you are in half day, you must do the mid day pick up. There is no bus.

Josh Hayes said...

Well, I'm not a BLT member at AS1 so I can't speak to the exact budget issues we have - but with those caveats, I think we have no fee for all-day kindergarten. AS1 is on the border between the N and NE clusters. But of course, it is an alternative school, which means families have to opt-in to the school.

This is, I believe, an item of faith at the school: no family should have to forgo school because they can't afford it, neither all-day K nor field trips. We use nearly all of our community-raised funds to pay for field trip scholarships. I can't say that this will continue to be school policy, but I certainly hope so.

Maureen said...

So there are mandatory assignments to 1/2 day K with no transportation provided?

Maureen said...

At the bottom of all permission slips we write:

The TOPS FINANCIAL POLICY says “All students have access to all educational experiences, including enrichment programs and extracurricular activities at TOPS. Student participation in such activities shall not be denied due to the family’s inability to pay the cost of the activity."

Eric B said...

At Pathfinder K-8 we fund every single child for full day kindergarten. How do we do that? It varies from year to year... sometimes the PTSA covers those fees and sometimes the building budget absorbs those costs. We have discussed asking families to make a contribution if they are able, but even that was rejected as not in the spirit of our school. BTW, we are not, nor ever have been Title I. It is a matter of priorities. Our BLT, principal, staff, and PTSA think that this is a crucial priority.

Unknown said...

north seattle mom, that's not quite accurate, there were no more than 25 kids in am and pm k at Laurelhurst, it's the full day k's that have up to 30. And yes, they will provide bussing at mid-day if the students are eligible. But still that's 50 families for one teacher to communicate with, I can't imagine 60. We were assigned to Roger's initially and I was a little taken aback that my ONLY option was a pay for k.

north seattle mom said...

Thank for the clarification Jamie! I saw (on TV) the Laurelhurst teacher that testified about 30 kids in her class and thought she had talked about half day too so I am glad that was not the case.

Maureen, so it seems that you can get 1/2 K at one school in the NE with bussing. If you don't get into that school, then you get a mandatory assignment of pay for K.

In the past, this has not been too much of a deal, all things relative. Nearly all the schools have scholarships and the PTAs raise enough money to cover any funding shortfalls. Plus the schools are well enough regarded that most folks are willing to manage the fee even while grumbling about the unfairness of it all.

However, this policy is really going to be tested this year at Jane Addams. A whole lot of families are going to be assigned to the new 4 Ks at JA and they are going to be required/requested to pay $2500 for the wonderful option of their mandatory assignment. Not only is this fee larger than most of the other options, it is a brand new program with no track record and no PTA money for scholarships.

I like everyone gets so tired of all of the district mis-steps but this one is big enough it might bring Pay for K crashing around their ears. $250/month and then mandating that everyone charge $250/month when so many schools were under $200 is just too far.

Rose M said...

It may have changed this year, but in the past schools could not require students to stay for full day K. They may say that they only offer full day, however you can have your child dismissed before lunch. I don't have any personal experience with the busses. I do see busses delivering Kindergartners home around midday.

If your daycare is better & cheaper or if you are at home, you certainly can look at the option of half day.

anonymous said...

Rose is right - a school can't require you to stay for full day K, you can have your child leave at midday if you choose.

But is this a good option? Is it good to have a full day k class and have your child miss 1/2 day?

It's not only socially awkward to have your kid be the only one (or one of only a couple) of kids that leaves a full day k class at midday, but it can be academically challenging too. Your child is missing 1/2 day of work that the other kids in their class are receiving.

Some schools, like TC, tried to have all of the academics in the morning, and all of the non academics (fun stuff like PE, art, singing) in the afternoon. They had 1/2 day kids attend in the AM, so they received the academics, however, these children missed out on all the "fun" stuff at school.
Not sure that is a great introduction to school.

I know I'm in the minority but my child would have benefited from a 1/2 day K, and I would have chosen that option if it were available, but I didn't like the idea of enrolling him in a full day K and pulling him out 1/2 day (he would have been the only 1/2 day kid that year). Very awkward.

Dorothy Neville said...

I am flummoxed with the differences in cost. The weighted student formula did not account for differences in salaries. Schools were not required to budget more for salaries if they had more senior teachers. Why should Pay for K have such a differential?

Anyone work on a budget with Pay for K who can add more information?

And I know we now have a weighted staffing formula instead, but I don't think that accounts for actual salaries either, does it?

The Jane Addams K situation is big. Wow.

Megan Mc said...

Josh, as an AS#1 BLT member I can confirm that we will continue to offer free all day K next year and that the parent-raised funds will continue to provide scholarships for field trips and to cover the cost for any fee based activities like tae kwon do, double dutch, pond boat building, or piano for kids who want to participate but can't afford it.

I don't think any other schools in the NE cluster offer free all day K which means that our FRL numbers will likely continue to rise as families who cannot afford to pay for kindergarten and before and after school care will look for other options. Our 8:30 start time and on-site before and after school care will likely attract more working families, too.

I see the potential for major demographic differences between AS#1 and the other NE cluster schools as a result of the pay for K situation. I'm pretty sure that Broadview Thompson and Northgate also offer free all day K in the North cluster so our demographics will not be so out of whack there.

Rose M said...

Some past differences in cost are accounted for by differences in class size. That will change for next year.

Some PTSAs & BLTs picked up part of the full day K budget pieces, that other schools added to the pay for K cost. Like extra playground supervision, extra office staff, PCP staff, field trips, tutors, etc.

Unknown said...

Keep in mind that FRL families get free all day k automatically at any school, so it shouldn't skew AS1's demographics too much. Also I've heard rumor that next year will be the last that half day k is offered at Laurelhurst, but that's not written in stone I don't think.

North End Mom said...

It was announced at a recent PTA meeting that Pay for K at John Rogers will be $215 next year. It has been adjusted from what was published in the enrollment guide, due to changes in kindergarten teacher staffing (a more senior teacher will be teaching kindergarten full time, rather than sharing her position with a less senior teacher).

I haven't heard anything about standardizing the Pay for K costs cluster-wide.

You can opt for a half-day at Rogers, but not many families do it. The classes are structured for full days, with most of the meaty stuff, like math and reading, in the mornings, and science, art, reading buddies, music, library, and PE, etc.. in the afternoons. Swimming lessons (part of PE) would be bi-monthly, in the mornings, so half-day kids would not miss out on those.

Anonymous said...

There's swimming lessons for PE at John Rogers? Where? At Meadowbrook? Wow.

Dorothy Neville said...

First. Let me be clear that I do not like Pay for K. I am just trying to figure out the figures and differences between schools and years.

I can see that a difference in number of students *could* mean a difference in tuition charged. If an FTE costs $60K, they could just divide however many FTEs they need for each extra half day kindy by the number of students. If they do, how are FRL students' portion paid? Does the school eat that cost or is it paid by the district?

And in that case, if students withdraw or enter midyear, the tuition should be recalculated. That's not really fair though, so perhaps there's a cushion or something?

I still cannot see how they can say that one teacher costs more than another. I am pretty sure that school budgeting always used an average FTE cost. So it just doesn't make sense with what I know of the budgeting process, but I have never served on BLT or a budget committee so my information is incomplete. But I still question the more expensive teacher explanation. It just seems weird.

Free said...

Half-day K at Coe is extremely popular, not only because of the superb teacher but the "extended K" program at Coe Care (Boys and Girls Club). We got the best of both, with fantastic teachers am and pm, afternoon swimming (at QA pool) and a cost only slightly more than full day K.

Maureen said...

Dorothy:

Positions funded by Self-Help funds (fees and/or donations) will be expended at actual salary and TRI costs. In addition to paying for actual salaries and TRI, Self-Help must also cover benefits and sick leave substitute costs.

From (p 36):
Guidelines for Fee Supported Kindergarten

momster said...

everyone chafing at pay for k should sign the petition at the link below. it's a little clunky as a website, but it's the thought that counts.

and note - it's not the district we should be railing against on this matter (as others have already said), it's the state - and you could argue that it's not the state, it's the tax structure, which we, the people, are responsible for establishing.

we have met the enemy, and it is us.

"We respectfully ask our legislators to honor their constitutional obligation to prioritize and fund public education so our 1 million public school children and their educators can succeed in the 21st century."

petition here

Maureen said...

Does anyone have access to stats on the percentage of eligible families who actually enroll in FRL (by grade level and ethnicity would be great). I am concerned that certain ethnic groups do not choose to enroll in FRL even though they qualify (because of cultural reasons, pride or because lunches are loaded with cheese.)

It also seems odd that FRL rates seem to drop off in 8th grade(for our school at least)--do family incomes increase in that year, or do kids become self conscious and not enroll?

Queen Anne Mama said...

I'm SO glad I found a page with some information on this subject! I WANT my son to only go to half day kindergarten. I think full day is too much for him at this time. But we didn't get into the half day program. Does that mean we're forced to pay $200 a month for something I don't even want? Or can I insist that I only want half day? The school he got into has one half-day program. 22 of the 25 kids in the half-day class go to daycare on-site the rest of the day. So they're at school all day anyway. And it costs about the same. Why don't they just go to school the full day, and open up those precious spots for kids to only go to the school half-day? I want my son to come home for lunch and nap and fun extracirriculars and not be stuck at school till 3 everyday. SeattleSchools website has zero information on this. ANY help is welcome!