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Monday, February 14, 2011

Pay for K - Kindergarten Survey

Update: The Stranger Slog is running a story on this issue.

Kind of having a "grrrrr" moment here with Communications at the district. They are having this interesting game with me of "you're media; no, you're not media". I am allegedly on their "media" list and yet I don't get their media updates. I missed a press conference recently because I didn't get invited. However, that's my dispute to figure out but apparently they sent out info I think is important (that I received via a third party) but here you are:

THIS IS IMPORTANT AND TIME SENSITIVE!!!

Dear SPS families and families with young children:

Please respond to this survey as soon as possible. Responses received by 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 16th will be shared with the School Board during the budget work session that evening and will help guide budget decisions. We will continue to accept responses to the survey through Friday February 18.

The state of Washington funds only half-day kindergarten (there are a few exceptions to this for high poverty schools). For many years our district has added funding for a further half day to ensure there would be one full day kindergarten available in every school. Over the years schools added "pay for K" programs as more and more families wanted full day K for their children. For the 2010-11 school year, we implemented a standard $207 per month Pay for K program across the district. Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch receive tuition waivers.

With the severe budget crisis, we are considering various options to balance the budget and one is related to Kindergarten services. We want your feedback about these options. Thank you.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HYTDGHZ

Please forward to any and all parent e-mail lists especially if your school is alternative.

66 comments:

mirmac1 said...

This relates to that Audit & Finance committee meeting last week. The question is: what's the threshold where $$/full day K means more parents will simply opt to keep kids in half-day. The answer will determine whether or not the budget axe falls on pay for K or some other line item. One question on board members minds is how do you survey parents who may not even be enrolled yet (no siblings). Should SPS be a full-day K district? Is it worth the bucks? How does it affect capacity issues at some elementaries. etc etc

Anonymous said...

They are seriously considering an almost 50% increase in the pay-for-K fee in just one year? Unbelievable!

And what a survey, that was really comprehensive.

Parent of 2 in SPS

Jan said...

I am with Parent of 2 in SPS here. How can they justify a 50% increase in half day K tuition?

Is it in fact the case that the expansion of so many schools to full day K has brought on board a truly unprecendented number of FRL kids who are not charged? Or are the paying families so financially strapped due to the recession that they cannot pay the tab, even though they have not signed up for FRL?

Because those are the ONLY two reasons I can imagine would be at play here that are NOT the District's fault. Inflation is pretty flat, so costs certainly have not gone up 50% (unless they are charging a whopping amount to administer the fee collection and/or are simply failing to collect the fees that the schools quite capably could, and did, collect on their own a few years ago-- before Central Admin INSISTED on taking over that function -- only to screw it up).

Seriously, Melissa -- any hope that someone will (truthfully and credibly) explain why this is increasing by over $100?

Kathy said...

The state only funds half day K. The district picks up the tab for full day K.

Increasing K tuition to $307 month will off set $2.1M district cost. FRL students are exempt.

The district figured $307 month is cheaper than day care. Yet, amount of parents able to pay this cost is uncertain.

The district considers itself a full day K district. Issues will arise if many students opt into half day option.

StepJ said...

Am spreading the word as best I can.

I hope parents will consider the *found* $3.3 million vs. give quick consent to a 66% increase to the Pay 4 K rate - for a District that only structures the school day for Full Day K.

There was a great extended day K program at Laurelhurst. The parents, school and community wanted it to stay and the District, in the interest of their, "We are a full day K District" kicked it to the curb.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I can certainly go to the next Work Session on budget on Wednesday and see if it gets explained.

I can only tell you that the district has not cut what they should at Central Adm (not Central office). This is a lot about protecting the Strategic Plan (which, fyi, is now embedded into School Board policy on budgeting) and everything that surrounds it.

Tell the Board you want that $3.3M "accidentally left off the budget sheet" money to go to Pay for K.

What is rather funny is that they haven't even been able to collect THIS year's Pay for K money and yet they want to raise it?

dj said...

I will say, as a parent with a kid in private pre-K who has an unpopular assigned school, the district is doing all it can to get me to leave my kid where he is.

mirmac1 said...

Whoa Nelly, the $3.3M could restore elementary school counselors or other instructional positions/resources. Here's where the vaunted school-community partnerships could come into play. Besides, what are the pros and cons of being a full day K district? How many K classrooms will the most crowded schools require? How many more teachers? How will half-day K kids get home?

First choice, cut the nifty dashboard showing Johnny's absent two days this week, cut the incessant MAP testing with such a range of error and to render scores meaningless, cut the academic "coaches" and crappy contracted-out fashionable curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I understand that Shoreline and Edmonds already charge over $300 for pay for k. Most of my friends in those districts don't do full day K for that reason.

north seattle mom

anne said...

While it is appropriate to have FRL students exempt from pay-for-K, it doesn't seem fair require that money be made up only by the rest of the kindergarten families. Especially in a city school district with so many FRL students.

Anonymous said...

In high-poverty schools the state pays for all day K. The other parents are NOT subsidizing FRL pay for K.

budget watching

Bird said...

Here's a question. Back when schools individual managed the costs of Pay for K what was the range for tuition? Did any of them breach $300 a month? I know ours did not.

Why is Kindergarten now more expensive. What's the extra money for? Is it to pay for K? Or is it to cover other holes in the budget? As long as it is managed by the district, I doubt there will be much in the way of transparency.

anne said...

I just looked on the Shoreline site and they also charge $310/month. This is from their FAQ page.

Is there a cost involved for kindergarten?

There is no cost for half-day kindergarten. The cost for all-day kindergarten is $3,100 for the year. You will need to
put down a deposit of $310 with your registration, and then starting in September you will make a payment of $310
each month through May. All payments must be made through automatic payment deductions from a checking or
savings account.

WSKparent said...

Why did I not receive this survey from the district since I receive other emails from them, have a current kindergartener and one entering in the next couple of years?
If my school had been able to collect my monthly payment, I would have paid much sooner and last year full day K was higher at our school.

lendlees said...

Another reason the 'extended day' system works better is that parents can use their day care reimbursement $$ to pay for it (pre-tax dollars). The one StepJ mentioned was a great choice that many parents chose over the full-day option.

It would make a lot of sense to partner with the on-site day cares at the schools to offer that option instead of forcing parents to pay the district. Then it also allows families who can't afford full day to have their children come home without feeling like they are missing something.

So, the argument that $307 is 'cheaper' than day care isn't taking into account that working parents can offset some of the costs by either using pre-tax dollars or deducting the cost from their tax returns. Paying the school district does not allow that.

Unknown said...

Jan, I have a third suggestion that seems pretty obvious. It's entirely likely that the $200 per month price tag was never even remotely close to the amount needed to cover the existing cost of full day K. Perhaps it was when the figure was originally set, perhaps not. Even if it was, was it adjusted yearly to keep up with actual costs? My guess is that the number was arbitrarily set to something people thought families were willing to pay instead of having to pay for daycare for that afternoon. Which you think is exactly what they're trying to do this time around.

Floor Pie said...

Any chance this may result in more schools offering half-day K? Our school doesn't offer it, so we're basically choosing between scraping up the $310 or pulling her out of class halfway through the day (or sending her to a different school than her brother). We'd happily choose half-day K if it were a real choice at our existing school.

NW Mom said...

That survey was ridiculous. Hopefully, everyone will check undecided so the Board doesn't think they are getting verification for one of those options!

I also want to know why they didn't send it out to parents.

Lori said...

My understanding of the price increase is that in past years, the district funded one full K FTE at each school, but all other K teachers were funded at 50%. So schools used the Pay-for-K money to make those part-time teachers full time. Historically, schools set their own rate and they differed from school to school based on their individual financial situation.

Last year, the district funding was the same (1 full time K teacher, all the rest funded 50%) but the district centralized and standardized the payments (to $207/month).

What is proposed for this next school year is that ALL K teachers will be funded at 50%. So each school is losing funding for one-half of a K teacher. The increase in price is supposed to make it possible to continue to offer full-time K in this era of financial doom and gloom.

Remember, the governor's working on an "all-cuts" budget for the next fiscal biennium. Schools are taking an enormous hit in the process. Cuts to K are just the first part of the ugliness ahead.

kellie said...
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NW Mom said...

I have another serious concern about cost driving decision between 1/2 day K and full day K. My daughter is in K this year, and I have a son entering in 2012. I have no idea if this is accurate, but it seems most kids (probably all kids at our school) are going to full day K now. If the numbers change dramatically due to this cost, say 50/50 - or any meaningful number, there is going to be a real discrepancy with achievement/ability levels when the kids enter 1st grade.

Our two K teachers have already taught the entire K curriculum this year and have moved into 1st grade curriculum.

If you have several kids who have had all the K curriculum and some 1st grade curriculum, how much of a mess will 1st grade be? Most full day K kids will be BORED in 1st grade!

I'll bet this will put additional pressure on the advanced learning department. More importantly to SPS central admin, how will they get accurate test scores between the two groups?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Floor Pie, this was one of the unpleasant truths that Sherry Carr revealed at the last Work Session (and, for some reason, didn't get back up from other Board members about) - we don't really have half-day K.

Yes, yes, I know it exists in a few schools but by and large, it's not an option at SPS (and I think they want it that way).

Sherry's point was two-fold:

1) how can you say we are a full-day K district if parents can choose not to pay for full-day? It's an option, not mandatory.

2) there's a difference between having a half-day K program and having a full-day K program that where kids can leave in mid-way thru.

Meaning a half-day kindergarten class would have a beginning, middle and end that your child would be in but if your child was in a full-day K and left in half-way through, then your child wouldn't have the full sequence of the class.

The district has to make its mind up. I understand the budget issues but parents WILL choose and trying to believe they will choose pay full-day K over day care might be a fool's game.

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

"Our school doesn't offer it, so we're basically choosing between scraping up the $310 or pulling her out of class halfway through the day"

I'd get in touch with as many incoming K families as you can. Find out how many of them would be interested in 1/2 day K. If you had enough interested families the school might be willing to offer one 1/2 day class. If they weren't willing to offer the 1/2 day class, and a large group of families opted to pick their children mid day, it would send a message, and I bet the school would have to tailor the day/curriculum/class schedule due to many/most kids leaving class mid day.

I'm not sure though, how transportation works? Since full day isn't mandated, and it is a parents right to opt for the 1/2 day, does the district have to provide yellow bus service (for those that qualify for it) for 1/2 day families?

Anonymous said...

I filled out the survey that I would not pay and that it would be a lot easier on kids to offer a real half day option instead of a makeshift one. There is currently one child going half day and the unfairness was apparent yesterday when she wasn't at the valentine's party. I do actually pay now, but would have chosen a half day option in a heartbeat.
-Jamie

SPS Alumna and Mom said...

I don't have any upcoming K students, but I filled out the survey, and commented that I hoped the district would be adding genuine half-day options so that low-ish/middle income families would have a real choice. In my kids' K classes, there were only one or two kids who left mid-day, missing who-knows-what.

Also, someone asked about the rates prior to this year. I looked into this when my older child was in K, as I thought our school had comparatively high rates (it did). The range at that time was around $125-$250 per month. There didn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to which schools were higher versus those that were lower.

Jessica said...

Perhaps we could save money on kindergarteners by not giving them the MAP test. Then use that to help pay for full day K.

At my son's school, half day K is not an option (not even pulling them out half way through the school day). We would have to pick a different school for my daughter altogether. $300 a month would be a lot for our family.

Central Mom said...

I'm afraid the 1/2 day conversation is leading us down the wrong path.

Strong early childhood education is paramount to success in later grades. If we move to a system where many kids are participating in 1/2 day, they are losing opportunities in the classroom right at the start of their school experience.

We had it right in moving to full day K as the standard. Now let's come together to see how our community can keep it funded.

hschinske said...

NW Mom, I've never heard that there was any particular discrepancy between half-day kids and full-day kids if they were coming in prepared for school to start with. Full-day kindergarten does help those who are behind to catch up, but in my experience the vast majority of teachers are teaching the same things whether it's for a half day or all day.

Kindergarten and first grade teachers *always* have to deal with students being all over the map in the skills they come in with, because in addition to the differences that come from the age span in the classroom and the different preparations students have had, developmental differences are heavily at play in these early years. The same developmental differences mean that it's difficult for a kid to get all *that* accelerated just from having been exposed to above-level material. There's plenty of overlap in what most kindergartens cover and what most first grades cover anyway.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

I do not have a child entering K but I filled out the survey, noting that there should be valid half-day K option at every school.

Mr. Ed

Maggie Hooks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

You do not have to pay for Pay for K if you qualify for free/reduced lunch OR are at a high-poverty school.

All the parents at a high poverty school get free full day K versus at another school where only F/RL students receive it.

Maggie Hooks said...

has there been any talk of changing that? is it a requirement of Title I funding for the school? or a carrot for middle class families to stay at schools with otherwise fewer family resources?

Patrick said...

Stepping back a bit, if we can't fund full day school for all grades, is kindergarten where we would cut it? I think the early grades are the most important. If we can't make wiser cuts like MAP and all the other ways the district wastes money, maybe we should charge high school students for taking more than six periods. At least families who couldn't afford it wouldn't have to pay for child care. Maybe they would get jobs instead.

anonymous said...

That's a great idea Patrick. Let's have our low income high school students be even less prepared for college.

Good grief.

Jamie said...

Suggesting that the district offer a 'real' half day option is admirable but it seems they are heading in the opposite direction. We just got an email a few days ago from the Salmon Bay principal that SB is going to two full day K classes next year for the first time ever. This was mandated by the district.

Patrick said...

Guppy, actually it's the lower-middle income students, just like it's the lower-middle income students who are missing full-day K now.

Being unprepared for college would be undesirable, but being unprepared for elementary school is even worse. At least in high school there are discrete courses, so there would be some choice about what to miss, and not just a randomly selected half of the material.

NESeatteMomoftwo said...

SPS is a already a full day Kindergarten district. There are only 2 1/2day Kindergarten classes available in the city. And according to their web site, next year there will be NONE.

From SPS Web Site: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/FDK_Enrollment%20website.pdf
“For the 2010-11 school year, Coe and Salmon Bay were the only schools to offer ½ day Kindergarten only option. However, beginning in the 2011-12 school year, all Seattle schools including Coe and Salmon Bay Elementary will only offer Full Day Kindergarten (FDK). FDK fees apply unless (1)your family qualifies for free and reduced lunch, or (2) their school is designated ‘free” due to the fact that 55% or more of the students qualify for free and reduced meal program."

While you might then chose to just take your child home at 11:45 mid day (not really) you then read this on their web page as well.
"Half-Day Kindergarten Students can opt to enroll for half-day program participation, which is free of charge. Most schools can accommodate kindergarten students who choose to attend for half of the program day. Please talk with the Principal if you are interested in half-day participation only."

Please note the can, not will.
It is my understanding that until last year Kindergarten Classes had math and reading (the required subjects) in the AM and all other “fun” subjects in the afternoon (Science, Social Studies, Art, Etc.) That is no longer the case. Teachers are allowed to mix it up more. I have heard from some friends with Children in this years Kindergarten class, that they felt if they chose the ½ day option their child would fall behind, and were not supported by their school.

This is just such a slippery slope. Do we start paying for all the other “extra subjects”, in all other grades too? Is the new Phiosophy to be "If its not tested for, its not funded?"

If we are going to be a Full Time Kindergarten District it needs to be funded in Full.


NE Seattle Mom of 2
1 entering Kindergarten 2011
1 entering Kindergarten 2013

mirmac1 said...

Yes Jamie,

It's yet another mandate passed down from "on high" that SPS is a Full Day K district. No matter who it helps, no matter who it hurts. As the "consumers" and bill payers, parents should be instrumental in setting these mandates, not Reuvan Carlyle, not "Big girl pants" Korsmo", not ed reformers on our school board and MGJ staff. So fill out the petition. Tell them where to put the "oops" $3.3 M!

Unknown said...

Patrick my guess is that you don't yet have a high school student. I just don't see any other basis for a comment like "Being unprepared for college would be undesirable, but being unprepared for elementary school is even worse. At least in high school there are discrete courses, so there would be some choice about what to miss, and not just a randomly selected half of the material."

Being unprepared for either is very very bad, at least if you substitute "life" for college, since not every student should or wants to go to college, but they all need to be effective adults, right?

I'm not sure that whole or half day k is going to make much of a difference in whether a particular child is "prepared" for first grade. From what I've read, effective preparation begins pretty darned early in life. I just don't believe that adding 2 education hours (once you back out lunch and recess) to a school day for 10 months will make much difference for the kids who arrive at K with the most serious preparation gaps. Of course it will help, and we shouldn't shy away from doing what we can, but not on the backs of 14 year olds.

Remember, the state only funds 5 of the 6 periods in our high schools to begin with. I only know a small handful of kids who take 7 classes, usually by coming in very early to participate in a special band of some sort. I'm not sure as a revenue source it would equal all those full day kindergarteners.

As to your idea that we can send them off to work if we cut back a couple of sections of the high school day, how many employers do you know that are open to hiring 14 year olds? For that matter, do Washington's child labor laws even allow it? In the alternative, do you really want packs of 14-17 year olds roaming the streets unsupervised for a couple of extra hours a day?

Let's not play this game. All our kids deserve a real education. We, as a society, have failed to buck up and tax ourselves in a way that allows us to give it to them. We, as a society, have failed to hold our legislators to their constitutional duty to fund education fully. Let's work together, not pitting elementary kids against high school kids please. Divide and conquer seems to have done its job well enough already without using this issue as another chance to deepen the divide.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rosie is correct. We should not pit school needs against other school needs.

The money needs to come out of Central Administration. I wrote this to the Board again on Monday. I don't think the schools are really being protected at all. Not with the size of HR.

Turn your gaze to the downtown folks, not each other.

Maureen said...

Since full day isn't mandated, and it is a parents right to opt for the 1/2 day, does the district have to provide yellow bus service (for those that qualify for it) for 1/2 day families?

The proposed Transportaion Service Standards (being voted on tomorrow) changes the policy on this for '11-'12. It will now read:

Midday kindergarten transportation will be provided should a parent decide to not participate in the school’s full day kindergarten program. Transportation will be limited to the student’s attendance area boundary.

So if you were assigned to the school during open choice and can't afford pay for K, you now have to transport your kid yourself.

It's not clear that requiring a school to offer 1/2 day K would save any money. It would save about half a teacher, but would cost (at least one and maybe more) buses. Also, to the extent that it's unpopular, the class size would be small so wouldn't be the most effective use of a teacher or a bus.

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

"It's not clear that requiring a school to offer 1/2 day K would save any money."

It may not save the district any money to offer 1/2 day K, but that's just to bad. They can't force their burden on families.

Three hundred dollars a month is A LOT OF MONEY, and is just not doable for many lower middle class, and middle class, families. We are talking $3000 for the year folks. In a time of a horrible economy, when many families are struggling just as much as the district is struggling.

As we watch the district trim their budget and cut services, families are being asked to increase their budget to the tune of $3000 a year for pay for K. That just doesn't seem right to me.

If the district wants to be a full day K district, and not offer a 1/2 day option, that's fine. As long as they offer scholarships to all of the families who can't afford tuition (not just FRL families). If they can't do that then they had better offer the 1/2 day option at every school.

StepJ said...

If you have multiples -- twins, triplets, or more, the tremendous rate hike is really onerous. And there is no discount for having more than one child enrolled such as we experienced with the extended day K program at Laurelhurst.

I personally think cutting the MAP test for K, or even K-2 would be a great way to reduce expenses. Or, not do the 'alignment' of elementary music, or direct any funds available from the supplemental levy that are not contractually required, or -- so many options, other than cutting funding to schools. (Including custodians!)

Jet City mom said...

I think half day should be a clear viable option- but having kids leave 1/2 way through isn't the same thing.

$300 is also a lot of money.
That is more than we paid to have our oldest in UCDS for 1st grade ( after scholarships)

hschinske said...

While the costs for the MAP test certainly add up when considered as a whole, the cost per child is not much (about $12 a year), so there wouldn't be anything like enough savings from not testing kindergartners to lower the pay-for-K price significantly. Even eliminating the MAP for K-2 wouldn't help that much. (There might be some other savings if we renegotiated the contract -- it's not necessarily limited to $12 a kid -- but I still can't see them adding up to terribly much when weighed against pay-for-K. I would be glad to be wrong about this.)

Helen Schinske

Jan said...

Rosie:

I totally agree with your thought that we should not be using this issue (yet one more) to pit different school communities against each other! We need to push the District to come up for the absolute best educational offerings it can, given the current budget, for ALL kids (though I confess, I am not sure what I think that is, in light of all these comments -- paid full day for all? "meaningful" half day for those who don't want full day?)

On my other point, I guess my understanding was what Lori wrote -- when this was done at a school level, each school figured out what it would cost to "buy" the remaining half days of teacher time it needed (less the one full day class and whatever other funds they had to devote to that effort), and then figured out what to charge. So it wasn't just a "guess." They actually figured out the needed amount -- AND collected the money, both things I am not sure the downtown folks are doing). Perhaps the entire discrepancy comes from removing the "district" funding from all full day Ks where it now exists. But does that count places like Hawthorne, where it was ALL full day and free before? Should it?

I am not sure I have a clear sense of what the "right" answer should be -- but I would love to know how they derived the number. If NEXT year we are asking K parents to pay for a bunch of stuff (like replacing half of full day K in schools where ALL families now get it free, and the District financed single class in other schools -- that strikes me as a pretty big shift (especially to K parents).

And they had better not have just cruised the web and decided, based on what the "freight would bear" in Shoreline, to plug a 300+ per month number! Or at least, they had better tell us that is what they did!

As for using the found money -- I have to say -- I think elementary counselors are more critical -- on the whole. I agree that for specific kids, maybe the extra K time is as important as the crisis prevention and problem solving that the counselors do -- but there are lots of parents out there who can pay for half day, at either 200 or 300, and who will pay that much to private day care if their kids go to half K. I hate to replace all that money, if it is at the cost of no elementary school counselors (and at some grungy, dirty, dilapidated point, no janitors/maintenance folks).

anonymous said...

I just added money to my child's paypams lunch account and noticed there is an option for pay for K. I had no idea paypams also did pay for K?? They are a for profit company (I think) that charges parents fees to use their service. Is this how parents have to pay for K? Or can they mail a check directly to the district, or give it to their school office to avoid paypams fees?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Guppy, I had written a thread about how PayPams was chosen because the district already used them for school lunches. I think there is a fee embedded in there but not if you pay by check. (There was some issue about being able to use a credit card and PayPams not being able to do that for Pay for K.

anonymous said...

I just checked with Paypams. They do not take cash/check, but they do take debit cards. They charge $6 per transaction fee for credit and debit cards, and offer a one lump sum payment, or a ten monthly payment plan. If you choose the ten month payment plan, you'd pay Paypam's a service fee of $60 over the course of the year.

You do not however have to use Paypams. On the Paypams's website they direct families who want to pay by check to contact: FullDayK@seattleschools.org, or call 206-252-0275

Patrick said...

I am not advocating pay-for-high-school, and I'm sorry that wasn't clear. But coming from a district (like almost all in the U.S.) where full days of all 13 grades were paid for, I'm still shocked at the idea that public schools charge for ANY part of basic instruction. Faced with a budget that doesn't allow that, K is definitely not where I would start charging.

If we're really not pitting one community against another, maybe families should pay a much smaller amount for EVERY student, and not just pick on K? Before you start, this would against my own interest because my daughter is past kindergarten age.

Anonymous said...

I have twins in Kindergarten this year. Until very recently, the only way you could pay the fee was by check to the District -- $207/month. My understanding was that $7 of that monthly fee was an administrative charge for the District's costs in handling collection of the Pay for K fees. In August, when parents received a letter from the District about Pay for K, we were told that payment by credit card would soon be available, but that did not happen until very recently. I have not checked into the credit card payment option, but I would be very upset if I learned that PayPams was charging a fee on top of the $207/month. Also, by the way, there has been no discount for paying the annual fee in a lump sum so there has been no incentive for parents to do so. I know that when my school collected the Pay for K fee last year, there was a discount for paying the annual fee in a lump sum.

What really concerns me is the lack of transparency about how the amount of the Pay for K fee was established and how it is being allocated to schools. This is supposed to be a cost recovery fee, not revenue to the District. Last year, my children's school collected $200/month from K families and stopped collecting after 9 months because the school realized it already had more than enough money to cover its costs. First grade families are now receiving significant refunds -- thus, it only cost about $1300/year to cover K costs at our school last year, not $2000/year. But, now that the District is collecting the fees, I do not know if the District is tracking collection from my children's school and comparing that to the cost of full day K at my children's school. Or is the District looking at collection and costs on a District-wide basis? If it's looking at collection and cost on a District-wide basis then why are families who are not FRL but whose children attend a Title 1 school exempt from paying the Pay for K fee? I have asked these and other questions, but no answers.

K Parent

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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anonymous said...

I'm just not following your logic Patrick. How is the district picking on K? You pay for K, then you have a free ride for the next 10 years, as does every other family in the district. It's not one community against another, we're all doing the exact same thing.

I do think the idea of spreading the fees out over the course of 11 years has some merit though, and it would clearly be much easier on middle class families. $3000 divided by 11 years, comes to $272 per year. If a family chose a 10 month payment plan every year, they would pay $27.20 per child, per month, for 11 years. Only problem I can see with that is kids can move out of the district or go to private school after K, so they would not have paid their full fee for K. Of course this works both ways, students move into the district, or transfer from private to public after K, and they would be paying for K even though they didn't attend K. Very interesting.

And please don't get me wrong. I think forcing families to pay $300/mo for full day K, without offering scholarships to all who need (not just FRL) and/or a true (free) 1/2 day option is a terrible idea, and I'm not advocating for it in any way. The very idea is appalling to me, as would be paying for a 6 period day in HS.

Maureen said...

Patrick, I think it's just easier to collect the larger amount from the K families. It's a sort of entry fee. I've heard it justified since Washington doesn't require kids to be enrolled in kindergarten (no one calls the truant officer if you keep your five year old at home with no home school plan.). I have also heard principals act as though it's no big deal since many people were already paying for daycare so they don't complain.

I love Seattle, but I hate the fact I live in a state that doesn't care enough about educating children to find a way to pay for it. I think our politicians are basically spineless weenies who cater to short term business interests at the expense of our future.

K Parent, Excellent questions. I get the impression that they are only tracking on a District level. One reason I can think of not to collect from nonFRL families in Title1 schools is to create some sort of incentive or compensation to keep them there. Another possibility is that many of those families might cycle in and out of FRL eligibility and it's just easier not to keep track of their status. Of course that is also true of families at non Title schools.

I wish there were a sliding scale payment system for lower income nonFRL families. One possibility would be that if your familiy would have been eligible for FRL anytime over the previous two years you don't have to pay. I wonder what percentage of the need that would cover? Does anyone know if there is any way to appeal based on special cases (medical costs for instance)? Who would you appeal to? What would be the process?

anonymous said...

"but I would be very upset if I learned that PayPams was charging a fee on top of the $207/month."

Prepare to be upset:

http://paypams.com/seattlekfees/

Their website says that the monthly fee for 2010/11 is $207, plus a $6 per transaction fee from paypams.

Note: You can avoid using paypams and paying their fees by sending checks directly to SPS

Anonymous said...

Personally, I believe in 1/2 day kindergarten for young children. Each school should definitely offer 1/2 day programs as an option for those who choose, whatever the reason. I agree with others who said 1/2 day is not the same as leaving midway through the class.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Very good questions, K parent. The district has promised to return money to families if they end up with more than the costs. However, with what I have seen of the accounting (or lack thereof) for Pay for K, I doubt anyone will see any money back.

I would write up what you said and send it to the Board and tell them the district should have to do a quick annual report on Pay for K expenditures, school by school, so that it is all explained to parents.

I don't know the ins and outs of Title One so I can't speak to why parents who are not F/RL but whose children attend a high poverty school do not have to pay.

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

"I think it's just easier to collect the larger amount from the K families. It's a sort of entry fee. "

Well, sure, Maureen, it's easier. Easier for the district. But not easier for families. I hope we haven't lost sight of how hard it is for so many lower middle class, and middle class families to come up with $300 a month. For many, it is just not doable. Period. So many families I know are not eligible for FRL, but are living paycheck to paycheck, and struggling to make ends meet. They shop at Grocery Outlet, and Goodwill. They drive beaters. Don't have cable. To ask these families to come up with $3000 to send their kids to school is absurd.

And yes sure families don't HAVE to send their kids to kindergarten. But guess which families won't send their kids? It will be those who can't afford it. It will be the lower middle class, and middle class. Do we really want that? Do we only want those who can afford it, or those who are on FRL to have access to kindergarten? Really?

And as for the principals assumption that families are used to these fees because they paid for daycare and pre school, all I can say is that he/she is misguided. Some families don't do daycare or pre-school at all. They rely on grandparents or other relatives to watch their children, trade child care with friends or retired neighbors, or choose cost effective co-ops.

Boy, we are really losing touch with reality here in Seattle. When making decisions like this we really have to be able to look out of our own little world, and circles, and acknowledge that everyone is just not as privileged as us. Not everyone can pay their "entry fee"

I do like the idea of a sliding scale for everyone. That is an idea worth checking into.

Maureen said...

The more I think about it the more obnoxious I think it is that some kids won't be able to go to the Valentines Day party or have science all year because their parents can't cough up $3000. What would happen if the schools just revolted and let all the kids stay all day whether or not they paid? The principal would have to look the other way. If they did, how would SPS ever know that the kids didn't go home at noon? (Well, there is the bus ride home, but maybe that could be explained by some fiction about nearby daycare.)

Oh, I know, some principals would say that it's a safety issue and that the kids aren't covered by insurance if they aren't enrolled. (safety seems have become synonomous with legal liability) I wonder if there is any formal difference in how the kids are enrolled if they choose to leave early? Does anyone know? (Does 1/2 day show up on report cards for kids who leave a full day K early, for instance? I doubt it)

You know, I like this idea. And while we're revolting-all of the K-2 families should opt out of the MAP at least twice a year too.

Patrick said...

I'm just not following your logic Patrick. How is the district picking on K? You pay for K, then you have a free ride for the next 10 years, as does every other family in the district. It's not one community against another, we're all doing the exact same thing.

I see it as picking on K because K should be fully funded. Since the state is too backward to fund it, it should be funded by the district out of general funds, not billed to the parents. That is what the district does with the 6th period of high school, and numerous other necessary things the state doesn't pay for.

From what Lori says, the District is actually reducing their support for full-day K, and putting it all on families instead of paying for one full-day K teacher per school. This is absolutely the wrong way to go. They should be maintaining support for full-day K, if not increasing it.

$300 is a lot. For many households, it's not instead of child care, it's in addition to after-school care, so they're actually paying more per month than they were before their child was in K. They should put it back to the level it was last year for a start. The Board said they'd keep the cuts out of the classroom.

Maureen said...

I watched part of the Board Meeting and saw that they voted to apply some of the 'found' $3.3Million to full day kindergarten so the price will 'only' rise by about $30 per month (to about $230) instead of by $100.

Anonymous said...

Is everyone forgetting that we've ALREADY Paid for these services. This is a standard service that is to be provided to EVERY child in America. remember "no child left behind" yeah right! unless you're in the middle class scraping by trying to pay all these new taxes, Roads (that are still terrible), bike lanes that cause more congestion because they are poorly planned,tourism taxes, higher taxes on food, gas,and all other necessities. I have a child in K right now and 1 that was set to start next year. He will not be going to public school because by definition our public schools are not "public" at all. They are a business just like everything else in this city has become over the past 10 years. Here's an idea 'stop stealing our hard earned money' and use the money we ALL already gave you.... I pay taxes, belong to the PTA, supply a ton of school supplies for free each year, volunteer time to the school, and much more and now the district wants to deny my child their education. I paid the first payment this year and that is all I will pay. At the advisement of my attorney I simple refuse to pay and literally can't wait until they try to throw my 6 year old out of public school over a couple hundred dollars. this will end up in court and there is no way they'll give back any money that they have taken so I simply won't give it to them until they go through the proper legal channels that are already set forth in our state constitution. Public schools are not private business and are subject to a whole host of rules and regulation especially when it comes to raising taxes and fees. Maria Goodloe-Johnson as well as her staff are incompetent (possibly criminally as we'll soon see)and at what point in our democratic society did we all just sit down and let random half trained people decide that we must pay for services that have always been an inherent right of the people of this country.i would gladly pay my portion if it were split by the total number of students in the district, but does anyone see the scam in the mentality used here. They have determined that since we give money to someone to watch our children (before, after, or private instruction) so we can WORK that we are the least likely to complain and cause an issue and what are we going to do when our babies ask why the can't go to school.
DON'T PAY, DON'T PAY, DON'T PAY
Goodlow-"I want my money back and I want you fired"
GB West seattle