Board mulls child care hike



GOING UP—The cost of offering child care services continues to rise, according to Conejo Valley school district leaders. To cover the increase, the administration is proposing a 15% fee hike. Acorn file photo

GOING UP—The cost of offering child care services continues to rise, according to Conejo Valley school district leaders. To cover the increase, the administration is proposing a 15% fee hike. Acorn file photo

Parents who receive child care through the Conejo Valley Unified School District may have to pay more starting next year.

At the Nov. 15 school board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Victor Hayek discussed a potential 15% across-the-board hike, which would cost the average family an extra $62 a month per child beginning next school year.

Parents are currently paying $413 a month per kid for full-time care (before and after school). That figure could rise to $475, Hayek said.

Tuition costs for CVUSD’s University Early Childhood Center, also known as Wonder Preschool, would also be going up.

There are about 1,085 TK-5 children enrolled in CVUSD child care currently. The program is staffed by 100 people.

Child Care, Wonder Preschool and the California State Preschool Program are the three programs available through the district.

The reason for the increase is to cover the rising cost of labor expenses without having to pull from the general fund, Hayek told the school board.

Trustees Karen Sylvester and Cindy Goldberg pushed back.

“Some of these increases are just pretty substantial from a dollar perspective, and then you have some families who have multiple children,” Sylvester said. “I would prefer to see something a little bit less.”

“I like being not in the red,” Goldberg said. “But I, too, thought that was a pretty big jump for one year.”

Some parents have more than one child in the program, and those who really need the service would be affected the most and possibly be forced to turn elsewhere to make up for the increased cost, the board members said.

The cost increase is a tough call but is necessary, said Hayek, the district’s finance chief.

Scholarships are available to some students, he said.

The board is expected to revisit the tuition hikes at its next meeting Tues., Dec. 13.

“During a pandemic, we took a big hit in child care, to the tune of a $1.5 million, we supplemented child care from the general fund. So the last two years have been pretty good,” Hayek said. “However, expenses continue to rise and we do have to make adjustments in tuition.”