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Guidance on Charging Fees to Children Funded by CPP

A number of school districts and community programs have asked for assistance in determining whether they could charge fees to students funded by the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP). While some fees are not addressed directly in the CPP Act there are several statutory references that can inform districts in determining legislative intent when establishing their policies. Below is information clarifying what types of fees can and cannot be charged to early childhood students.

Can we charge families funded by CPP a registration fee?

Funding received for children eligible for CPP entitles them to a minimum of 360 hours of preschool (or 720 hours if using two CPP positions to provide a full day of preschool) over the school year at no cost to the family.  No fees can be charged to the families for any part of the CPP portion of their child’s day/year. Families cannot be charged a registration fee as a condition of enrollment in the preschool program funded by CPP (C.R.S. 22-32-117(2)(b)(I)).

Can we charge families funded by CPP a fee for extending the day beyond what is required by CPP?

Yes. CPP statute is clear that if a program is extended beyond those 360 (or 720 for a full-day) hours funded by the state parent fees can be charged to parents. However, a child cannot be required to participate in and/or pay for those extended day services in order to be funded by CPP. Most families in CPP cannot afford additional tuition payments or fees and therefore they may access other support services like the Child Care Assistance Program or private scholarships to pay for the extended day (C.R.S 22-28-111 (1)–(2)).

Can we charge tuition fees to children not funded in the School Finance Formula by CPP or early childhood special education?

Yes. Children under the age of six are not entitled to free education and as a result, school districts can charge tuition for those children who are not supported by CPP or early childhood special education through the School Finance Formula (C.R.S. 22-33-103).

Can we charge families funded by CPP any other types of fees?

Before any fees are charged to families, there are several questions that should be considered:

  1. Has the local school board approved these fees?
    If any fees are charged to students in public schools, including preschool students, they must be approved by the local board of education. Fees can only be used for the purpose for which they are collected and the board must be able to identify:
    • A list of approved fees
    • How the fee amount was determined
    • The purpose of the fees
    • Whether the fees are voluntary or mandatory and which activities the child will be excluded from if the fee is not paid (C.R.S.22-32-117(c)).
       
  2. Will children eligible for free and reduced meals be exempt from these fees?
    Children eligible for free meals are considered “indigent” and are therefore exempt from paying any additional fees (C.R.S.22-32-117 (1)).
     
  3. Are the fees being charged for services considered part of the preschool program?
    Miscellaneous fees can only be collected if they cover an activity or program that is not considered part of the academic portion of the program. These fees can only be collected on a voluntary basis (C.R.S. 22-32-117(2)(a)(IV)) and the board has to identify what activity the child will be excluded from if the fee is not paid (C.R.S.22-32-117 (3)).
     
  4. If the school district is contracting out the program to a community provider have the additional fees being charged by the program been reviewed and approved by the CPP district advisory council and the local board of education?
    When contracting out the Colorado Preschool Program, CPP district advisory councils must make recommendations for funding to the local school board (2228 – R 4.10 C.C.R.). Then local boards of education must ensure that money transmitted to community programs do not supplant money available to fund other services provided by the agency or program (C.R.S. 22-28-109 (2)).

The final determination for funding is the responsibility of the local school board (2228 – R 4.10 C.C.R).