CPS plan to charge pre-school tuition upsets parents

April 9, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The plan involves a sliding scale, which means some parents will pay more than others. Parents are already responsible for school lunches and supplies. Now, many of them are outraged.

"It's horrible," said CPS parent Jill Dennewitz. "I feel like we moved to this neighborhood to go to the neighborhood schools and get what children deserve: a free education."

Some CPS parents have just found by e-mail that Chicago Public Schools will start charging sliding-scale tuition fees at school-based pre-kindergarten programs this fall.

The sliding scale will be required only for kids enrolling in pre-school for the first time with CPS.

Heather Mikulskis has a 4-year-old already in the Oriole Park pre-school, but says she will now have to pay $400 a month for her second child to attend the pre-school.

"We also pay taxes to the city, and therefore, our children should be able to attend public school without being taxed more," said Mikulskis.

Karen Sullivan has been on a waiting list for daughter to attend the Oriole pre-school and has just learned she has to select three other schools in addition to having to pay for pre-school.

"We weren't expecting it, and now another couple thousand dollars we're gonna have to put in our budget for next year for her education," said Sullivan.

Parents do not approve of the sliding scale, which means some parents could pay as high as $400 a month, while others could pay as little as $15 a month for the same pre-school, depending on their gross income.

"The sliding scale, I think, is ridiculous," said Sullivan. "If they need to start charging, it should be a little more even-set for all."

"It's about an equity of access for our children," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "The details of the actual cost will be vetted, but the most important thing is we're guaranteeing a significant number of additional seats for our pre-K youngsters."

The deadline for parents to have their pre-school applications turned in to CPS is May 3.

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