Preschools are closed. So why are parents forced to pay tuition?

Houston – Parents are in a pinch and feeling frustrated that preschools are requiring tuition payments for April and May, even though classes were canceled and their children were home.

KPRC 2 has received emails from parents with kids in preschool in Houston ISD, Spring Branch ISD and several private schools.

The parents say the daily 30-minute Zoom sessions provided for their kids are not worth the full freight of tuition for a seven-hour school day.

KPRC 2 reached out to HISD. A spokesperson sent us the following statement.

HISD Statement on Pre-K tuition during the coronavirus pandemic:

“Houston ISD is closed but instructing during the COVID-19 crisis. Families enrolled in the district’s tuition-based pre-kindergarten programs are required to pay tuition for the remainder of the school year as they continue receiving instruction through paper-based educational materials and access to curriculum and digital resources on the HISD @ H.O.M.E. online learning platform. HISD educators remain on the job and are continuing to be paid for developing and providing educational materials and supports for pre-K students and their families during the districtwide closure.

Additionally, Houston ISD had 15,354 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten at the 2019-2020 school district attendance snapshot. Of those, 286 students (1.8%) are enrolled in tuition-based pre-kindergarten.”

When KPRC 2 reached out to Spring Branch ISD, the district sent the following statement:

Spring Branch ISD’S statement on Pre-K tuition during COVID-19 suspension of normal operations:

"SBISD is still offering virtual Pre-K classes. Pre-K teachers are performing their job duties by continuing to monitor student progress. SBISD Pre-K teachers and staff are continuing to be paid during this time of suspended normal operations. It is important to note that parents have opted into this program, and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) does not provide funding for these students. Therefore, parents are expected to continue to meet their pre-kindergarten tuition payment agreements as students continue to receive instructional services remotely. As always, SBISD will work with families having a significant change in family income to evaluate their eligibility for free tuition. (See SBISD Pre-K FAQ dated March 24, 2020).

During this time of remote learning, all Pre-K teachers are expected to conduct online sessions in alignment with the needs of young learners, and many have posted lessons in the SBISD online learning platform. In addition, students have access to online adaptive software, Pre-K specific content within the SBISD Digital Backpack and self-study printed packets, as well as text-message based curriculum supports."

The bottom line

The bottom line is schools still need to pay teachers. Daycares and other preschools have to pay overhead costs like their mortgage and insurance. With no way to pay those bills, they may have to close. When the pandemic is over, your child may not have a school to return to.

What you should do

If your family is not able to pay the tuition right now, reach out to the school and discuss it with them.

If there is no policy in your contract with the school that covers closure because of a public health emergency, then your school is just figuring this out as they go, just like every other business right now. KPRC 2 spoke with parents who were able to get their tuition waived when they explained their financial situation to their school district.