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Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh, So NOW the District is Sending Out the Pay for K Bills

From our Open Thread Sunday. The district seriously sent out huge bills for Pay for K right before Christmas?

I just want to say that I got my $828 Pay4K bill on DECEMBER 24!! Really, SPS? I knew it would be coming, although I NEVER once got any information about it before school started - I never got a Welcome to Kindergarten packet from the district, but I have been saving my money while waiting to learn how to Pay4K- but to send them out Christmas week? I just think about all the families that could barely pull Christmas together this year, who are not FRL...makes me sick.

Annoyed K Parent

24 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

By the way Annoyed, was it just a bill or was there a letter of explanation and/or apology?

zb said...

I agree that this is pretty dense (bills for $800 going out at Christmas time). I'm sure there are people for whom that's going to be a problem, and how will they deal with it?

ParentofThree said...

FRL families do not pay for K. There are some schools where full day K is free to all schools.

If you read up on the SPS web site, they are pretty clear about the payment expectation and they are only invoicing parents who are late in payment. What I think the issue is, parents did not receive a letter with the following information.

"The initial payment of $207 for September of school year 2010-11 is due by August 25th. After the initial payment, the $207 monthly fee will be due on the last day of the preceding month. For example, October fees will be due September 30. Note: individual fee refunds for partial months attended may be made only if the student leaves the district. For students enrolled after the start of a school year, the student fee is $207 for the initial month when enrolled in the first 15 calendar days of the month, and 50% of $207 (or $103.50) for the initial month when enrolled after the 15th of the month. Invoices will be mailed only to parents/guardians who are delinquent on their payments. If payment is not received, a reminder call will be placed to the parent/guardian."

With that said, I am not sure when this information was posted as there is no last "updated" date on the page.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Parent of Three, they are NOT invoicing only parents who are late. Did you miss my thread on the Audit and Finance Committee meeting? It was clearly explained that Accounting had not been following thru and they didn't even know the exact number of families they were to charge AND had not followed thru on those they DID know were eligible for payment.

The issue is not just not receiving a letter; it's the district's inability to do simple accounting.

ParentofThree said...

That is why I ended my comment with, not sure when this info was posted as it would seem like if this was the info all along then there would be no confusion. I suspect this info was added after the Audit Meeting in an attempt to cover their butts.

That said, FRL families should not be getting these bills. Would be interesting to know if they are!

Anonymous said...

Well if the information, lack of information, clearly wrong information that we got regarding Pay for K is any indication. There is a whole lot of bullshit being thrown around. I for one would demand to see an accounting of all payments before I sent this district one red cent.

For instance at our school tour we were told no pay4K. Then at orientation, oops, we meant yes pay4K, well after open enrollment no real chance to change schools. Then we got letters ( from the district) saying, no wrong again. No pay4k. Even our hardworking principal cannot figure out if we are to pay or not. Will I get a bill? Who knows. Will I be paying it without a fight? No way.
$207 a month is a big deal for our family. $800 all at once will not happen.
BTW, our family misses the FRL cutoff by less than 1000.00 per year. Our school itself does not have a high enough percentage of FRL to qualify for all school free all day K. Our PTA has always used some of their money to fund it.

SLP

Maureen said...

BTW, our family misses the FRL cutoff by less than 1000.00 per year.

This drives me nuts, there should be a sliding scale for Pay for K (Our school tried to have fundraising money create a fund for it, but our principal said the District wouldn't allow it.).

Paying $2000 to P4K effectively takes that money out of the SLP family budget and should count as making them eligible for free p4K. Does SPS account for that anywhere? What, in reality, is the penalty for not paying? Will they order up a school bus and send a five year old home in the middle of the day? Will they send the bill to collections (have they accounted accurately enough to make this possible)? Are the consequences of not paying set out in writing? Have families been required to sign a contract?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for understanding Maureen. WE are a barely making it, north end family with one special needs student and one K student. We feel completely disenfranchised by our district. WE are happy to pay what we can. A sliding scale would be a marvelous thing. Now I am afraid to go to the mailbox in case the dreaded bill is there. Merry Christmas to us. We were told that not paying ( if indeed we are required to pay...)would result in our k student being removed from class at noon each day and sent home on the bus. Yes, they would rather pay for a special half day bus than arrange a sliding scale or let our PTA cover it as they always have.

SLP

Charlie Mas said...

SLP -

I think you should raise this issue at the next PTA meeting - contact your PTA officers and have them put it on the agenda for both the general meeting and their board meeting.

Think about what you want so you can express it clearly.

another way to get free Kinder said...

Here's a tip to families who just barely miss the income cutoffs listed by the district for FRL: If you apply to DSHS for Basic Food, they will sometimes deduct certain allowances from your income when deciding if you qualify (like some of your housing expense). Then, if you qualify for Basic Food, you automatically qualify for FRL with SPS (even if your income is higher than what SPS lists).

This is the situation our family is in. We are just above the income limits that the district lists for FRL, but we do qualify for Basic Food with DSHS. So, luckily, we don't have to pay for K for our kindergartener (there's completely no chance we'd be able to pay anyway).

It's kind of a big deal to do a DSHS application, and I know some people don't really approve of getting the assistance, but if you're not getting by otherwise and can't afford PayForK, you should consider it. The PeoplePoint organization can help you apply.

Maureen said...

SLP, an extra bus costs the District about $28,000 (if it can be shared or $56,000 if it can't be). It is cheaper for SPS to forgo tuition from 14 kids than it is to send one shared bus for them. If you are outside the walk zone and would be eligible for busing, you might want to make this part of your argument.

Definitely contact your PTSA or Site Council and ask them to solicit opinions from other K-2 (at least) parents. It's important for families with younger sibs coming up to be informed about this--not just current K families. If you have an issue with this, there are other families who do as well.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would say contact the Seattle Council PTSA and ask that they let all the elementaries affected know to put this on their agenda. There is strength in numbers. Put it to use.

JaneAddamsKindergartenMom said...

Just a note that I am a Kindergarten parent, got the statement 2 days before Christmas AND it was accurate - reflecting the payments I had made through November but not my december payment (which I hadn't made, wondering what would happen if I didn't pay.) So, they've at least gotten some of the payments in and logged accurately. I did have an immediate reaction, though, that mailing the statements 2 days before Xmas was in VERY poor form. Should have been mailed at either the beginning of Dec. or the beginning of January. Can't imagine how much angst that might have caused some families who are struggling to open that right before Xmas.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I'm not paying. What are they going to do? Sue me? That will take years. And by that time, K will be over. Then what? Are they going to deny me 1st grade? Not send me the report card? Go ahead. Try it.

K parent

Anonymous said...

I am also a K parent. I never got a Welcome to K letter in Aug/September telling us what and how to pay, there is not a half-day option at our school, and, as my attorney husband pointed out, we never signed any sort of contract saying we would pay. I will pay because I know the state does not fund full-day K, but I won't pay my $828 all at once, nor will I pay a dime in advance. And actually, if they want to send my kindergartener home at noon, I would welcome it. I only work part time and would be there to greet her! Maybe I should try that?!?!

Another K parent

Charlie Mas said...

Here a rule every parent knows:

Don't make threats you are not prepared to carry out.

The District should not threaten families that they will send kindergarteners home on a school bus at noon (at a cost of about $40,000 per year) if the family either fails or refuses to pay about $2,000 in kindergarten tuition that the District cannot require them to pay and which the families never agreed to pay.

This is what happens when the District central administration takes over Pay for K.

This is a perfect example of the quality of the superintendent's implementations.

This is a perfect example of the District's failure to consider contingencies.

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

"Hmmm. I'm not paying. What are they going to do? Sue me? That will take years."

No, K parent the district won't sue you. They probably can't since you never agreed to pay tuition in the first place. And, no, they won't kick your kid out of school.

But your failure to pay won't bode well for future K families.

The district will probably do one or both of the following:

Raise the pay for K tuition next year to compensate for the fact that not all families will pay their tuition.

OR

Make sure that all schools offer a 1/2 day option for families like K parent who chooses not to pay.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's another option: the District can commit to covering the expense of full-day K without Pay for K just as they cover the cost of six periods in high school (why no Pay for Six high school program?).

Patrick said...

How much would it cost the district to cover full-day K for every family, instead of just FRL families? (Really, that should be happening statewide, but there's no way that will be approved this year.)

Would half-day K no longer be an option for families that prefer it?

The district owes parents an apology and willingness to extend payment over the summer and into next year for no penalty or mark against their credit. Offering automatic payment on parent's choice of days would be good, and it's the sort of thing that a competent district administration should be able to do that a PTA can't.

Bird said...

the District can commit to covering the expense of full-day K without Pay for K just as they cover the cost of six periods in high school

I've heard that the state doesn't pay for six periods in high school, but really I don't understand what this means.

I mean, I don't think there is some budget line item for 5 periods of high school for each student. Doesn't the district just give the district a chunk of money per student (excluding some add ons like LAP money etc).

The district uses that money as they like. They could choose to fund 6 periods or they could choose to fund a bunch of useless adminstration staffing and projects. How is it possible to say that the state doesn't fund 5 periods?

Charlie Mas said...

Bird, I appreciate the apparent fungibility of the state Basic Education fund. The knowledge of what is funded and what is not can be determined by matching the funding to the state's mandates. The state mandates, for example, the student:teacher ratios.

Please, for now, accept as the universally acknowledged truth that the state only pays for five periods a day for high school students and a half-day for kindergarten.

While I suppose other perspectives are possible, including one in which the state pays for a six period day for high school students, it would be just as easy to conclude that the state pays for full-day kindergarten. Only they don't.

FRL Family said...

We have a full-day kindergarten student on FRL. Thankfully, we did not receive a bill, so at least the district isn't messing that up.

uxolo said...

McGilvra had full day kdg and no fee, no paperwork, no mention of how it was offered - just sign up for full day.