Anticipating state funding cuts, Catalina Foothills Unified School District became the first district in the city to eliminate free full-day kindergarten next school year at its four elementary schools and will charge $4,000 a year for a child to participate in a full-day program.
In a letter dated March 10, the district sent parents of prospective kindergartners letters saying kids will be divided into morning (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and afternoon (noon to 3 p.m.) sessions. Parents can enroll their kids in the other session, dubbed Kindergarten Plus, for $4,000 a year or $420 a month for 10 months. The first payment for both plans is due May 1, and a $70 registration fee is due April 1.
Kindergarten Plus classes will be staffed by a certified teacher and a classroom assistant.
According to Joan Marrs, the district Community Schools Director, the district will use the tuition to pay the teacher and aide, and some money will go toward the school to cover the use of the library and computers and supervision during lunch hour.
"It's not just child care. We'll be using the extended time for learning," she said. "We're looking at this as a quality experience."
Lisa Millerd, the Legislative Representative for Ventana Vista Elementary School's Family Faculty Organization, is unhappy with the change.
"My feeling is it's short-sighted," she said. "I do understand, though, from a financial standpoint. Kindergarten is not mandated as a grade. But in the past we have had half-day kindergarten, and when you offer full-day kindergarten then toggle it back, you're causing all sorts of disruption to the education of these kids."