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"Pay-for-Play" Academic Programs?

Original post made by Stacey, Amberwood/Wood Meadows, on Feb 5, 2010

This looked interesting. "A program with extras for students" Web Link

I looked at the article because the beginning introduces this program as an alternative to CSR. I found it interesting that parents pay extra to have their kids take part in it.

"The wait list for this program hovers around 60-80 families; hence, admission is determined by lottery. Parents pay approximately $1,170 for their K-2 students to take part, and $900 for students in grades three through five. The funds primarily pay for classroom aides and the Spanish teacher."

Comments (4)

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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 6, 2010 at 12:49 pm

That does sound interesting.

I think I heard something on KQED several weeks back about a public school in San Francisco that is a Montessori school -- also with a lottery for entry, and with additional fees for parents (that are reduced or eliminated in some cases of financial hardship).

I can't find the link to the KQED show, but here's the link to the school's website:

Web Link


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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2010 at 3:46 pm

While it sounds like a good idea for raising money, I'm wondering if it's constitutional? Likely, only parents who can afford to pay up will enter the lottery and get the low class sizes they desire. Then the people who can't afford it have to sit in crowded classrooms? I didn't think a public school could implement a fee-based education.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

It isn't necessarily a low class size. It is lower student/adult ratio because the extra money goes to pay for the two aides and a part-time Spanish teacher. If you've got two classes with 30 kids each and one teacher, the ratio is 30:1 If you've got two 30 students size classes each with one teacher, and then two aides and a part-time Spanish teacher, you've got a ratio of 12:1.

I know that the difference between actual class size and ratio is not always clear at first. It is a little bit of a play because while PUSD K-3 has 25:1 ratio (and one class may have 26 actual students and another has 24.), if one were to add in the parent volunteers the ratio is actually a lot better.

I also wonder about the constitutionality of it though. I found this: Web Link

"Parents take responsibility for providing the funds for the classroom para-educators, enrichment materials, foreign language instructor and other essentials, The donation amount is determined annually and approved by the Advisory Board. While funding is strictly voluntary, the suggested parent donation is necessary for the operation and continuation of the program."

So it appears that it is still donation-based, but obviously the program won't exist without the support. Maybe this is one reason why SRVUSD has more donations than PUSD.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm

I think there are already differences between elementary schools in how many instructional aides are hired, and how many hours they work, because principals can use their site-specific funds in different ways at different schools.

I understand the concern about the legal and equity issues, but these kinds of schools exist in several school districts in the Bay area. There's a parent-participation school in Cupertino, another in Menlo Park, the one mentioned in the link in Stacey's original post in San Francisco....

If we assume for the moment that they are legal, are they something that PUSD should consider?

How about the Gates Foundation small schools initiative, at the high school level?

Link: Web Link

Or the early college initiative?

Link: Web Link


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