Tuesday, February 16, 2010

JCPS reduces (subsidized) preschool offerings

From the C-J editorialists...

It has long been recognized that it is important for young children to get a jump start on their formal educations.

Education? Yes. "Formal"? No.

Preschools are particularly important to disadvantaged children, so taxpayers underwrite the costs of public preschools for low-income and special needs children. Middle-class families, meanwhile, traditionally have been able to afford tuition-based, but nevertheless partially subsidized preschools.

The key questions: Why is the subsidy given to schools rather than parents and children? Why use a subsidy that sets up monopoly power rather than fostering competition? Why not use a subsidy that would result in higher quality and lower costs?

Enrollments in those programs dropped from 482 last year to 303 this year, and the district reports having lost $283,644 last year, even though tuitions were raised from $115 per week per child to $140.

A number of observations from the numbers here:

-It's interesting that prices were increased by so much.

-Holding other things constant (not appropriate to the extent that the economy got worse last year), demand was elastic. In other words, the percentage change in quantity was even more than the percentage change in price, resulting in (substantially) declining revenues.

-If the schools meet for 36 weeks (180 days), the loss in revenue would be $468,360. This would, presumably, be offset by even greater reduced costs.


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