The Payson Unified School District is trying to pull a financial "fast one" on the parents of some of its youngest and newest students. The school district has raised its tuition for the all-day kindergarten from $60 to $95 a month, a whopping 63 percent increase over last year's tuition. As a parent whose child will be attending the class, I decided to ask some questions about the huge increase, and what I found is pretty disturbing.
I was told that the increase was due to a "large loss of grant money from the state."
I called the state and learned that the school district's grant award had been decreased from $47,516 last year to $44,878 this year, a $2,638 decrease. Since the tuition to the parents had been raised $20,790 above last year, I decided to ask more questions.
My questions were referred to Mrs. Bobbette Sylvester, who explained the three teachers involved and their aides would be receiving raises and benefits to account for most of the increase and violin rental fees were going up.
Refusing to believe the raises for three teachers and some part-time aides accounted for such a huge tuition increase, I requested a copy of the program's line-item budget. The budget did show an increase of $6,787 in salaries and an increase of $406.56 for violin rentals, but still did not account for nearly $11,000 in tuition increases. It did have a very objectionable $10,812 line item entry titled "Reserve for uncollected fees, other costs and offset next year's increases." All other line items had remained unchanged from the previous year.
Almost no fees go uncollected because a waiting list of students is maintained on file and those who are two weeks late in tuition are asked to pay or be dropped from the program.
The item "other costs" is unacceptable in a line item budget. Is it meant to hide and funnel monies into other programs? And the idea that the parents of this year's kindergarten students should pay to offset next year's students is ridiculous. After all, it is a pay as you participate program. Is this another avenue to funnel money to other programs?
Perhaps there is some fat in the school district's budget after all, thanks to 66 kindergarten students and some creative budgeting.
John D. Wisner