REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Charging for kindergarten

Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann issued an opinion Sept. 5 that said public schools can't charge tuition for all-day kindergarten.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann issued an opinion Sept. 5 that said public schools can't charge tuition for all-day kindergarten.

Huron Schools is the only public school district in our area that provides all-day kindergarten at a charge to parents.Attorneys for Huron concluded the district should comply with Dann's opinion and immediately stopped charging for the program.

Why?

The schools are not required to provide all-day kindergarten, so they are, in reality, providing an additional service above and beyond what is required by Ohio law. They cannot provide this service without it being a burden on them financially, so why would anyone balk at a fee for those services.

Dann may have put the cart before the horse in this situation. Maybe his opinion should be whether or not public schools should be required to provide all-day kindergarten.

His opinion may have put a stop to additional education in Huron simply because the school cannot afford to provide it. Dann's decision will cost the district $8,000 a month for the remainder of this year. Huron charged $2,000 -- $200 a month -- for full-day kindergarten. The tuition was meant to cover teachers' salary and benefits and supplies for the classes.

If parents wanted to send their children to all-day kindergarten, and couldn't afford to do so, community groups such as Huron Eagles would step up and offer financial assistance.

Had it been left alone, the all-day kindergarten would still have been in place for next year and years to come. As it stands now, the district will look into it's finances to figure our if it can continue to provide the curriculum.

In Dann's opinion, all-day kindergarten should be free. But what he will likely accomplish with this opinion is no all-day kindergarten at all for public schools.

In our opinion, that stinks.

Meanwhile, left unaddressed yet again is the state's responsibility, delineated a dozen years ago by the Ohio Supreme Court, to fix the way public schools are funded in Ohio.

That stinks too.