Do You Have to Pay for Pre-K?

It's time to register your four-year-olds for pre-K, but will you have to pay? Two words on this year's application have some parents wondering what is going on. The words "pending funding" are at the top of the application, making some parents fear they may have to dig into their wallets to pay for their children to go to school.

Hesse Elementary School pre-K coordinator Carol Sanders says Georgia State Lottery funded pre-K slots are in high demand. Some schools have pre-K classes, some don't.

Hesse has 40 pre-K slots. A district-wide lottery decides who goes where, and kids not selected in the lottery have either to wait until kindergarten, or pay to go to a private pre-K program.

But the application this year has some parents buzzing. Some wonder if the pre-K program is in trouble or if parents will be forced to pay. Sanders says, don't worry. "Pending funding has always been on these applications."

For 12 years, the pre-K program has been getting four-year-olds ready for kindergarten. And for 12 years, parents haven't had to pay. And school officials say parents won't be paying in the future either.

"We don't see losing any funding for pre-K at all," said Sanders.

But Hesse principal Raymond Patricio admits, nothing is for sure. "It all depends what happens with the lottery in the future."

He says pending funding is a cautionary statement, just in case.

"It's been very beneficial," Patricio said. "We all enjoy our pre-K students. And it's fun to watch them learn and grow."

"As far as I'm concerned, pre-K will be around a long time," said Sanders.

Parents could start returning applications in the beginning of February. They are due by March 22. The lottery will be held March 23.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com