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District childcare rate hikes, waiting-list fee approved

District childcare rate hikes, waiting-list fee approved
Burbank Unified school board member Steve Ferguson was in favor of a cost increase to save the Horace Mann and Monterey childcare centers. (Tim Berger / Burbank Leader)

For the second time in less than a year, the Burbank Unified school board voted to raise its childcare rates in an attempt to close a nearly $1-million spending deficit.

Board members voted 5-0 on Thursday to approve hikes ranging from 10% to 40% for parents who utilize the Horace Mann Child Development Center and Monterey Infant Center.

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Prices will range from $259 to $425 per child per week, depending on their age, as district officials grapple with an expected $936,533 deficit at the Horace Mann Center for the current school year. The district has yet to provide a figure for Monterey.

Along with fee increases, a $100 annual waiting-list fee will be implemented.

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According to district figures, 279 applicants have been placed on waiting lists since 2015, though those numbers may be skewed by children who were enrolled between age groups and counted multiple times.

All fee hikes are set to start July 1 as the district tries to move its centers’ fees to a “market rate,” ranging from $325 to $425.

The fee increases will go into effect, even after district officials approved a 21% hike at both childcare centers on April 19, 2018.

“I would not be voting for this at this moment in time if it weren’t necessary to keep this program open,” board member Steve Ferguson said. “Costs are what they are and so, at this time, we’ve got to pass that on. In order to keep the program open, I’m happy to be supporting this tonight.”

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Returning parents will see the smallest increase — 10% annually — until their children either age out of the childcare centers or the fee they pay hits the market rate.

Parents currently pay $325 per week for 3-month-old to 2-year-old children, $300 for non-toilet-trained children from 2 to 3 years old and $235 for toilet-trained 2- to 5-year-olds.

BUSD approved a 10% annual childcare rate increase at Horace Mann and Monterey Child Care Centers for returning students and a market-rate increase for new students. (Steve Greenberg)
BUSD approved a 10% annual childcare rate increase at Horace Mann and Monterey Child Care Centers for returning students and a market-rate increase for new students. (Steve Greenberg) (Steve Greenberg)

Those prices will jump to $358, $330 and $259 per week, respectively, for the next school year and to $394, $363 and $285 the following year.

New parents will pay higher prices of $425 for children from 3 months to 2 years, $365 for 2- to 3-year-olds, both toilet-trained and non-toilet-trained, and $325 for 3- through 5-year-olds.

Monterey, which only serves children who are 3 months to 2 years, also will have a $425-market rate.

“This was the only model that we found in our research in California that a school district is still running a fee-based, infant-through-age-5 program,” Burbank Supt. Matt Hill said. “I want to thank the parents and staff for finding a way to keep this viable.”

Burbank’s new fees are based on averages from several local childcare programs, including the Burbank YMCA, Our Village Preschool and the Burbank Housing Corp. childcare center.

The Burbank YMCA, for example, charges $1,545 per month for infants from six weeks to 18 months, $1,442 for ages 18 months to 2 1/2 years, $1,288 for ages 2 1/2 to 3 years and $1,154 for ages from 3 to 5.

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Along with fee increases, enrollment changes were also approved.

The 3-month-old to 1-year-old group was cut by two students to eight, the 1-year-old to 2-year-old class will remain in two classrooms, but drop by three children to 24, while the 2- to 3-year old group will lose one classroom and have a maximum of 24 children.

The 3- to 4-year-old class is not just keeping its two classes, but will expand from 31 to 48 children. The 4- to 5-year-old class will remain at 24 children.

The rate increases, waiting-list fee and classroom realignment are expected to cut Horace Mann’s deficit to $406,718 for the next school year and to $301,232 the following year.

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