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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 will soon have to start picking their kids up at 11 a.m.

Chief Financial Officer Diane Johnson told the 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.

The first elementary school to see the changes will be , on Jan. 30, followed by on Jan. 31, on Feb. 1, on Feb. 2, on Feb. 3 and and on Feb. 6.

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 . 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.

irishmarine January 13, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I know other towns charge as well but it doesn't make it right. It is not daycare and the school is public. By charging, the town is making kindergarten seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. At age 41 I still remember my kindergarten teacher and the lessons she taught me. Kindergarten doesn't teach just reading and counting but simple manners and courtesies. We wonder why our youth are often unfamiliar with the terms "please" and "thank you"? This is one of many reasons the next generations will never be as "great" as those in the past. The need to save money by taking away from important programs while adminstrators are making outrageous salaries will continue to contribute to dumbing down of our kids and our country.
Joseph Dolan January 13, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Ms. Johnson doesn't understand that you do not penalize students for the actions of their parents. This is just a heavy handed, bureaucratic approach to solving a problem. There are others ways if central office personnel wanted to think about it more carefully.
Susan Ruderman January 14, 2012 at 06:18 AM
Here's the part I don't understand--removing the "non-paying" child from the classroom at 11:00 a.m.. doesn't save one penny of school costs. You can't cut a teacher or use less heat or electricity. So since it doesn't actually recoup any money, it is simply mean-spirited. And the notion that the afternoon is "extra" is disingenuous at best. Art, music, physical education don't "count"? And if dismissal is at 11:00 a.m., sounds like the kid doesn't even get lunch--which is not only a source of nutrition but also a chance to learn valuable social skills. A bad decision by the School Committee all around.
BD January 15, 2012 at 12:27 AM
While it does seem harsh to drag kids out of the class room at 11 AM, there needs to be consequences for the deadbeat parents who do not pay. It cannot and should never be the taxpayers obligation to pay for other peoples' kids.

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