While universal free preschool sounds great in theory, what happens to those faith-based preschools that must charge tuition in order to stay running?
That’s become the issue for the Children of Christ Preschool program offered at Christ the King Church.
“We’ve lost enrollment and it makes it very hard for a faith-based preschool to compete against a free one,” says preschool teacher and director Greta Mueller. “The district of our church is very politically involved with this. We’re trying to make our legislators understand how this is affecting us and they are definitely trying, but they are the minority right now.”
Keeping up enrollment numbers have been a constant struggle for Children of Christ Preschool ever since universal free preschool came into effect.
“Universal preschool was originally income-based on a sliding scale, meaning tuition was paid according to how much income a parent brought in,” says Mueller. “Now that they made it free, and the taxpayers are paying for kids to go to free preschool, which is great, but what about when we are trying to promote a faith-based education and can’t afford to keep our program running without charging tuition?”
But as it stands, free universal preschool is here, and it’s here to stay, according to Mueller.
On the bright side, the lower enrollment numbers for the preschool classrooms make it a more intimate learning atmosphere, as well as a way for children to receive that one-on-one attention that is imperative to learning at a young age.
“We are promoting our preschool because of the faith-based aspect; we teach the children everything you would be taught at a traditional preschool to get them ready for kindergarten. The only difference is Jesus is the focus of our mission, that Jesus died for them and He loves them. We like that we keep our numbers lower so each child can have their deserved one-on-one attention, but we don’t want our numbers to be this low.”
Children of Christ Preschool currently offers partial and full scholarships for parents. There is a two-day-per-week class that is being offered for 3- and 4-year-olds and a three-day-per-week class offered for 4- and 5-year-olds. Enrollment is still open for both classes and encouraged. For more information regarding this issue or for Christ the King Church visit their website www.christthekingaltoona.com or visit them at 600 First Ave. N.