Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Have Stared Into the Soul of Madness....

....and it's trying to talk policy with the Department of Education.

Here in Washington State we only pay for 1/2 day of kindergarten for students. Some schools are starting to have full-day K added incrementally, but because of our low poverty numbers we're way, way down on that list for additional money from the state.

So we thought we'd try the model where we ask parents who are interested to pay a monthly fee for the other half of the day, something we've seen other schools in our area do. We were all set to go forward last year when our financial guy discovered that if we charged for a half day we'd lose our Impact Aid money from the federal government, which is several thousand dollars per student.

Fast forward to this year. We're losing teaching positions, and if I could offer full-day K in my school I'd be able to save some jobs. Plus, I have kids who *need* that full-day experience, and I've got parents who are more than willing to pay--the only problem is the Department of Education.

Tried my state level impact aid coordinator. He turned me down flatly. I explained that the K students would still get their free half day that the state has deemed is the "free and appropriate public education" (FAPE) for K students; that didn't matter. If we charge them for a service that they wouldn't get otherwise, the other half of the day, then we lose our impact aid funding.

I went to the next level above him. This gal said she understood and was very sorry, but there was nothing she could do.

Now I've got Rep. McMorris-Rogers office involved trying to convince the DoE to see things our way. My bottom line is that DoE's ruling is making it so that I can't offer my military kids a service that many other schools can, and that's not fair to them or their families.

Good times.

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