No Payment, No Full-Day Kindergarten Starting This Month
Schools officials to begin dismissing nonpaying full-day kindergarteners at 11 a.m.
Parents who fail to pay for full-day kindergarten at Arlington Public Schools will soon have to start picking their kids up at 11 a.m.
Chief Financial Officer Diane Johnson told the School Committee that starting on Jan. 30, schools officials will begin removing nonpaying children from classrooms at 11 a.m. The change would effectively enroll students in a half-day kindergarten program, which the schools also offer.
On Thursday, Johnson said the move is one piece of the puzzle as schools attempt to collect $81,090 that parents have failed to pay. The second part is a new system to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
Starting next year, Arlington Public Schools will begin charging a deposit of 10 percent of the total cost for full-day kindergarten classes.
“If a deposit or completely documented evidence of financial need is not received, the child will be enrolled in a half-day program,” Johnson wrote.
In April, the School Committee decided to seek legal counsel on how to collect nearly $85,000 in overdue payments. The majority of the debt, $61,000, came from kindergarten programs.
“There has been some progress in collecting the debt,” Johnson said.
Over Christmas break, the number of nonpaying families dropped from 47 to 33 after Johnson sent out a letter to parents.
As of Jan. 10, the 33 families that had not paid their fees or presented proof of financial need were responsible for $81,090 in debt, Johnson said.
Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said the change from full-day to half-day kindergarten would not affect students’ learning. The core curriculum, such as English and math, would be available at the half-day programs. The only subjects missing would be the ones Bodie called ”extra.”
“Are we getting our literacy and math done in a classroom where some students may be halfway?” Bodie told the School Committee. “And the answer would be yes.”
School Committee member Leba Heigham expressed concerns over the 11 a.m. drop-off time not working for some parents, possibly resulting in children waiting by themselves.
“We’re not going to put a student on the curb by themselves,” Bodie said.
The superintendent added there would always be school staff around while children wait for parents.