The cost of preschool at Durango School District 9-R next school year will increase slightly, but not nearly as much as the 100% increase feared if rigid COVID-19 restrictions had remained in place.
For next year, the district has set rates for preschool at $550 a month for full-day preschool and $275 for half-day preschool.
In May – with tougher COVID-19 restrictions, including social-distancing requirements and a cap of 10 children per preschool still in place – the district had warned rates would have had to jump to $1,000 a month for full-day preschool and $500 for half-day sessions.
The state has eased those restrictions, and district officials expect the preschool program will operate with class sizes averaging 16 students per class, similar to this year’s average class size.
“Rates will increase, but it sure beats the thousand a month we were going to have to charge for five or 10 kids in a class,” said Superintendent Dan Snowberger.
The state’s revenue shortfall is still forcing preschool rates higher than 9-R had anticipated.
Per-pupil funding for preschool from the state has dropped to about $7,900 per child for next school year, down from about $8,500 this year, Snowberger said.
The drop in per-pupil funding comes as the Colorado General Assembly works to cut a $3.3 billion shortfall in general fund revenue caused by the economic disruptions resulting from public health restrictions in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Before 9-R was informed of the state reduction in per-pupil funding for next year’s preschoolers, the district had planned to charge $480 a month for full-day preschool and $240 for a half day.
For the past year, the rate for preschool at 9-R was $450 a month for full-day preschool and $230 for a half day. For the past school year, 61% of the families using 9-R preschool were able to receive financial assistance from the Colorado Preschool Program to cover the full cost of their child’s preschool.
Preschool is offered at 9-R from Tuesday through Friday during the school year. About 208 children were enrolled the past year, and for the upcoming year, the district anticipates 192 children will enroll.
Summer child care currently is offered by 9-R at Needham Elementary School for $30 per day. Snowberger said the program has 24 children enrolled but it can handle up to 50 students, and a class at another school could be added if demand increases.