The Fate of PreK 2011/2012 School Year

May 22, 2011 at 11:10 pm 27 comments

There is speculation that the PreSchool for All program is going to be cut next Fall.  Some schools are hearing rumblings already, others seem to be operating as though things will be fine.

Some schools are adding a new tuition-based half day program to give parents a paid option.  Is this appealing?  Supposedly $4000 per year for a 2.5 hour preK day.

Can the budget even have been decided yet?  In previous years this has been hashed out up until about a week before school started, then funding was found at the last minute.

Is it fair to offer free preK for families who can afford to pay?  Is it fair to cut free preK for families who really need it?  For kids with special needs?

No information here yet, just questions.  Hopefully for the sake of the families and teachers, we’ll find out what’s going on earlier than later this year…

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27 Comments Add your own

  • 1. lsm  |  May 23, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Here is an FAQ on the half day tuition program that I came by when Googling to try to find out what was going on with PFA. It’s geared toward school principals.

    http://www.ecechicago.org/resources/pdfs/Half%20Day%20TBP/Half-Day%20Tuition%20Based%20Program%20FAQ%20(CAO-Principal)%20(2011-2012).pdf

  • 2. NWest Mama  |  May 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    We are at Stock on the NW Side and were offered the half day TBPK for $4,000 per day. Honestly, its a little steep compared to most other half day programs so we will be declining if that ends up being our only option through CPS.

  • 3. LR  |  May 23, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    $4,000 for only 2 hours per day? We attend St. Matthias where half day is almost 4 hours per day and tuition is $5200 next year. And the Pre-K program at St. Matthias is really impressive.

    Don’t get me wrong…I do not think Pre-K should be free for everyone. In the very desperate situation our state is in, it should only be free for low-income families. But $4,000 for 2 hours a day is way too much. Generally families who can afford $4,000 can afford some type of private school, where their child would get a bit longer day (and I would argue a stronger curriculum…but that is just my opinion). I just think the price tag is too high for what you are getting.

  • 4. Mama Pickles  |  May 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

    My son is a special ed student in PFA. I asked his teacher what the status was because last week she told me that an official announcement was going to be made yesterday and I hadn’t heard anything. She said just like last year, CPS is waiting for their money from the state. The state isn’t giving any money because they are waiting for their money from the federal government. The special ed component of PFA might not exist next year because CPS can’t afford to have 2 teachers in a classroom. If PFA is offered next year and special ed students are included, there will only be 2 special ed students per class. This year I think there are 5 kids in his class.
    What I don’t understand is they are saying they can’t afford 2 teachers, but if they do, they’re only going to put 2 special ed kids in the class. One teacher for 2 kids? Talk about wasting money! Why not keep the 5 special ed kids there. I just don’t get it.

  • 5. Anonymous  |  May 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I agree with #3. Given the financial situation in the state, I don’t think free preschool for all is an option right now. I wish it were.

    That said, I truly believe the state should work hard at keeping free (or at least FAR more affordable) options for low income and special needs students. It’s important for them to have the right care at the right time, whereas most of us can deal with private PreK. Getting low income (and some special needs) kids into school early has made a difference for them. And it’s important.

    I do believe preschool options have done a lot to improve the reputations of some CPS schools. Too bad they can’t figure out how to make programs more cost-effective so that there is a reasonable tuition-based option. My child is in private preK for 3 hours a day, five days a week, for A LOT LESS than that and has 4 teachers with a class size of just 20-24 students.

  • 6. also obsessed  |  May 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    I think #2 meant $4000 per year, since full day is $10,500 right now.

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  May 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    lol – yeah, $4,000 per day is like NYC preschool prices.

  • 8. sfw  |  May 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    I am wondering what will happen with Barbara Vick Early Childhood and Family Center, should PFA get cut.

  • 9. goingtogermany0693  |  May 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I agree that certain portions of the population need to have access to free quality early childhood education. There are numerous studies that indicate positive future outcomes when money is invested in quality early childhood programs. As a former ECE teacher in a low income/high poverty school, I saw the positive results year after year.
    Again, CPS needs to start thinking outside the box in terms of how to meet the needs of their student population without wasting money (BIC), yet still striving for quality teachers, school environments, etc.

  • 10. Mama Pickles  |  May 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    @ #8 my husband has co-workers who have children at Barbara Vick and they were told a few weeks ago that they were going to a tuition based preschool program.

  • 11. NW Side Mama  |  May 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Oops! Yes, I did mean $4,000 per year for half day TBPK. The hours are either 9-11:30 or 12-2:2:30 , which in my opinion, is pretty steep for half day preschool.

  • 12. Hawthorne mom  |  May 25, 2011 at 10:23 am

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/ct-x-c-preschool-for-all-20110525,0,4344971.story

    Here is an article in the Trib today referring to blended programs, specifically, being on the potential chopping block.

  • 13. Angie  |  May 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    What about the self-contained special ed preschool classes? Has anyone heard any rumors about cutting them?

  • 14. Mich  |  May 25, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    No rumors on SPED except this is the first year our IEP process didn’t have itinerants from Central Office there. We’ve always had the autism itinerant before so it makes me wonder, were those positions cut?
    Also the first IEP was all about trying to remove her completely from services. Nice if she was ready but all the profiles say she isn’t. Had to demand an immediate re-evaluation.
    Would be nice if I thought was just an abberant year for us, but seems like it is overall not good sign.

  • 15. Mama Pickles  |  May 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    My son’s teacher told me the self-contained special education classes are safe. That’s where they want to put my son if there is no blended PFA classes. I refuse to allow it. He will regress so much!

  • 16. Angie  |  May 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    @ 15. Mama Pickles: “My son’s teacher told me the self-contained special education classes are safe.”

    Thanks, that’s good to know. My son is in self-contained oral deaf program, and he’s thriving there. For him, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    But it would be a shame to lose the blended program for those who need it. I hope they find the money to continue it. So what if some middle class kids get a free preschool out of it? If it will ultimately benefit both them and the special needs children in their class, it’s a win-win situation.

  • 17. cpsobsessed  |  May 30, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I was discussing this with a parent of a younger child at my son’s school this week and she asked “what are people supposed to do if PreK is cut?!”

    This makes me wonder how the preK schools in Chicago have shifted, if at all, as a result of Free PreK, which Rod Blago introduced a few years ago.

    Back when my son was in preK (4 years ago) there was tuition-based PreK (all day) and State PreK, which was more for kids with developmental needs (spec needs and/or lower income.) Very few parents I knew with non-spec-needs kids utilized this free program (although word was you could usually find a way to get in, if you wanted to.)

    So now I wonder, where did all those kids go to preK 4 years ago? Did any preK programs go out of business once people flocked to the Free PreK classes? Is there room for the kids to flock back to paid programs? I know the Chicago Park District PreKs were popular, as they were cheap and were only a few days a week, which most stay-at-home moms seemed to like. Maybe these have been cut back due to the budgets?

    Anyhow, it’s interesting how the general perception of PreK has changed over the past few years. I can’t for the life of me believe that free PreK for everyone can survive with the state budgets, so as usual, I’m curious to see what people end up doing for PreK going forward if/when the program is scaled back.

  • 18. nw side mama  |  June 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

    We had our school picnic (Stock School) yesterday and the principal announced that she received the “golden letter” and that funding was approved to keep our Preschool for All Program open next year! great news for us!

  • 19. Mama Pickles  |  June 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    @18 That’s great news!! I read yesterday that Brizard was going to keep PFA fully funded despite cuts from the state. My son doesn’t have class on Fridays so I am not celebrating until I hear the words from the teacher’s mouth, but I would assume my son’s class is safe as well.

  • 20. lsm  |  June 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    From a trib story posted last night:

    In a letter to staff Friday, new CEO Jean-Claude Brizard promised that the district this year will not increase class size and will maintain funding levels for early-childhood education despite proposed state cuts, keep supplemental full-day kindergarten positions and maintain magnet and world language positions.

    Here’s a link to the whole article:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-school-budget-20110603,0,4491028.story

    Does this mean all schools that had PFA in previous years will this coming year I wonder?

  • 21. Mama Pickles  |  June 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    @20 I would assume so, but you know what happens when one assumes. I can’t wait until Monday and talk to my son’s teacher and principal. I have never wanted a Monday to come faster!

  • 22. Hawthorne mom  |  June 4, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    It does sound like, somehow, miraculously, PFA will be saved yet again. One does have to wonder where the hard cold cash will come from though.

    I am keeping my eyes on June 15th, the last legal date the city can declare a fiscal emergency and break the teachers’ contract. (thus saving 10% of the projected budget shortfall by not giving raises) We’ll see. What crazy days!

  • 23. jksaf  |  August 1, 2011 at 6:31 am

    If you have a child with an IEP, you will always have pre-k( aka Early Childhood services) because it is mandated by federal law to provide these services. But it doesn’t mean that your child has to attend the school that he is currently at ( if the achool were to close its pre-k program) but have to provide services at another school. Although it looks like Brizard is trying to keep it for all, those students with IEP’s will always have a program to attend.

  • 24. Hawthorne mom  |  August 1, 2011 at 8:02 am

    #23, you are assuming that CPS follows the law. That’s a big assumption.

  • 25. Jeanne  |  August 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I currently send my daughter to a full-day tuition based preschool. The CPS tuition-based preschools don’t seem to be a good deal at all! Does anyone have any feedback on the tuition-based CPS preschool or the PFA programs as compared to a private preschool? I’d love to save some money, but I want my daughter to be challenged and learning!

  • 26. Jen  |  January 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Do you have any additional information on the preschool program for 2012? I received a letter from CPS asking me if I’d be willing to pay for 1/2 day preschool next fall for my 2 preschoolers at Hayt Elementary…coming to $5K per kid…$10K per year for 2.5hrs/day. CRAZY! Does this mean my kids won’t get into the program if I don’t pay the crazy tuition asked of us? We definitely can’t afford this.

  • 27. anonymous  |  January 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Jen, many schools are being asked to find out if half day tuition based programs are possible, because state funding for PreK is always at risk. My school is also looking into this. It doesn’t mean it will happen, though it could be if enough people can’t/won’t pay it, that preK at a particular school could be cut. Try not to worry too much, because seriously, this happens every single year. Fwiw, 5K a year for a 5 day a week 2.5 hour day is pretty comparable with most other private preK’s and next year, preK’s all over the city will likely go to 3 hour half days, because of the longer school day.

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