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Parents weigh in on private school tuition discounts

Margo Gibson (left), Elijah Bowe and his daughter Kaitlyn Bowe and Stacy Mackey.

Parents opt to spend thousands of dollars yearly on private school tuition in an effort to give their children enriched academic opportunities, but when COVID-19 left thousands unemployed and in-classroom learning ceased, many parents were left wondering how they would pay the bill and if the institutions would offer any discount assistance.

As schools daily make tuition discounts known – which for the most part have been capped at 20 percent, and payment dates to take advantage of savings – to parents who find themselves in financial constraints, some parents say they are appreciative of the discount, while other parents say the discount meted out is insufficient and that the institutions should do better.


AQUINAS COLLEGE PARENT

Margo Gibson, mother of Jalin Gibson, 14, a ninth-grade student at Aquinas College (AC), says she’s appreciative of the gesture given by the Catholic Board of Education (CBE) which has oversight for AC, Sts. Francis & Joseph School, St. Cecilia’s School, St. Thomas More and Xavier’s Lower School.

“I am appreciative for the gesture of the discount on third term fees as every little bit helps,” said Gibson who is employed.

“I was surprised at the offer, because I’m pleased with the virtual platform being offered. My son has been in school since COVID started, even though he’s been operating virtually from home,” she said on Friday.

CBE is offering up to 20 percent discounts on third-term tuition fees for parents faced with financial constraints.

For students whose tuition have already been paid for the third term, the board will apply a 20 percent discount against the fall-term fees.

Gibson is among the parents who automatically receive the discount cap as she had paid her son’s tuition prior to schools being shuttered on March 15, after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in The Bahamas.

Parents who have not yet paid tuition for the third term, will receive a 20 percent discount provided tuition fees are paid in full by May 31.

Parents who have not yet paid tuition for the third term, and who may also have other tuition arrears but cannot complete payments by May 31, are being offered a 10 percent discount. Additionally, a payment plan has been made available to allow for the completion of outstanding payments due for the 2020/2021 school year to be repaid by April 30, 2021.


KINGSWAY ACADEMY PARENTS

Tosheena Robinson-Blair, who has two children at Kingsway Academy (KA) and who also paid tuition prior to school’s shuttering, says the school should offer parents such as herself who paid in full and on time more of a discount. She says their discount should not be equal to that of delinquent parents.

Robinson-Blair says parents that paid on time should receive a 25 percent discount.

“In our school’s case, it’s unjust that parents who abided by the rules and paid on time are being offered the same 20 percent discount as parents paying up to three months later.”

She likened it to a “slap in the face” to the school’s best-paying clients, who she said were the ones to agitate for the discount they received.

“Initially, the school said they couldn’t afford to offer us anything,” she said.

Robinson-Blair says she’s written to school officials expressing her thoughts, but her letters have gone answered.

“It’s only fair that parents who paid in full, on time, receive a 25 percent discount. This would fall in line with the 20 percent discount offered to parents paying by June 30, and the 15 percent discount offered to parents paying by August 30. I’m not speaking out to place Kingsway on blast. I’m a 1996 graduate of KA and one of their biggest supporters, but that doesn’t change the fact that these are tough times for us all and most cannot afford to be shortchanged.”

Robinson-Blair says, in a perfect world, parents would receive varying degrees of credit based upon their child’s grade level with the highest discount offered to lower grade levels where students are unable to self-direct their schoolwork. She said at Kingsway that didn’t happen.

Fellow Kingsway Academy parent Elijah Bowe, whose daughter Kaitlyn is in 11th grade, was appreciative of the discount, considering he has not paid his daughter’s tuition as yet. He intends to pay the tuition before the June 30 deadline to take advantage of the 20 percent discount.

But he believes parents who paid the full amount on time should receive a greater discount.

“I appreciate what they doing, but I feel they need to do a little more,” said Bowe.

“I appreciate the fact that teachers still ensuring that these children have work to do and for the better part doing it, but at the same token, the children haven’t been at school. They’ve been at home, and we, the parents, have been schooling the children and the children schooling themselves. Also, the schools don’t have to pay light bills. Their costs have gone down considerably because of the fact that the children ain’t in school. My internet gone down, through no fault of mine, so I had to go and buy data to ensure she had internet service on her phone so she could do her school work. So, this homeschooling costing me. Honestly, because children aren’t in school – it should be a 50 percent discount.”


TEMPLE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL PARENT

Kendra Martin, mother of a K3 student at Temple Christian School who pays her child’s tuition annually says she is thankful for the discount given by the school, but says they didn’t have to.

“It’s not something that I would cause a ruckus for.”

Martin will receive a 15 percent credit on term-one tuition for the 2020/2021 academic year – the same credit being given to parents that have not yet paid third-term tuition.

The school has given parents a tuition credit of 15 percent to be applied to accounts of students from K3 through Grade 11, in recognition of students not physically in school. The discount is available to parents who have not yet paid until June 4.

TCS says the tuition credit is non-transferable and will not be refunded as cash.

Where a student has graduated, they say a refund will be made Friday, October 2.

The daughter of a retired teacher, Martin says she knows what it’s like for educators, as such, she says would not have a problem if she had not received a discount.

“I know what teaching is like, so I won’t cop a fuss if I’m not discounted, because Kendryck’s teacher still has to live.”

She also says she’s cognizant of the fact that many parents have had salary cuts or are unemployed.

Martin is working.

“Even if I was [affected], this wouldn’t have been something that I argued about, because having him home and having to do homeschool with him…I wish his teacher could come to the house every day.”

Martin is working from home, studying online towards a Bachelor’s degree and trying to manage her three-year-old.

“I always say I don’t know how Ms. Sweeting does it with 11 of them. She does a really good job.”

Martin pays school tuition in advance and is able to advantage of the discount offered to parents that do.

She says her son’s tuition for the next academic year has already been set aside, and wishes she could apply his 15 percent discount to a student in dire need, on top of the discount they will be receiving.

“They could have taken Kendryck’s 15 percent and put it with another kid’s 15 percent because in setting aside Kendryck’s school fee for K4, I never accounted for a 15 percent discount. I would have already prepared for whatever the term fee is.”


QUEEN’S COLLEGE PARENT

Stacy Mackey, mother of Larry Miller, a fifth-grade student at Queen’s College says the school offered what they could and she was appreciative.

“Larry has still been attending online classes. He’s been getting a lot of work, projects, assignments, including videos he had to upload for physical education – so for me, the teachers have been doing their part, and the school has been doing their part. Yes, I think everybody would have wanted more [of a discount], but I am comfortable with the level of instruction and engagement.”

Mackey said her son does four online classes a week and always has access to teachers.

“From day one, QC had an online educational platform that allowed instruction to continue after the closure of school.”

She said she was also impressed with the personal touch by Reverend Cleveland Wells, who reached out to them to ask how Larry and the family was doing during the time he was out of the physical school.

“The personal touch I thought was nice,” she said.

Mackey is one of those parents who did not pay tuition by the March 1 deadline. She paid late. She has since paid, but that was before QC’s announcement of a discount.

Her son is returning to QC for the next academic year and will benefit from the discount.

QC parents with official payment plans to pay outstanding fees by July 31 will have their payment arrangements extended to August 31. Parents who do not have an official plan with the school and wish to apply for a payment plan must send an email to [email protected]

The school stated that the $100 late fee previously applied to term-three balances will be credited to the 2020/2021 term-one statements for all returning students in September.

A tuition credit of $200 will be applied to the accounts for all Phase 1 to Grade 11 students returning.

All accounts for students graduating in June 2020 will receive a $200 credit towards term-three fees. Accounts that are eligible to be paid a refund after the $200 credit is applied will be processed by September 30.

A tuition discount will be applied if tuition for the 2020/2021 school year is paid by August 31. A five percent discount will be applied to the family accounts of parents who have three or more biological children enrolled at QC. For the next school year, a nine-month payment plan will be made available to parents/guardians who qualify.


ST. JOHN’S COLLEGE PARENT

Kendea Jones-Smith, whose daughter Malaya, eight, is a second-grade student at St. John’s College, is still awaiting word from the Anglican Diocese on whether they will offer tuition-fee discount, if any. She says she is hoping for one.

“I didn’t get one as far as I know,” said Jones-Smith on Friday. “I hope they consider it.”

Jones-Smith and her husband Maxwell have not paid their daughter’s tuition as yet. She says the tuition is not paid because she has not gone to the bank as yet.

“I’m too busy homeschooling her and me, because I’m studying towards a master’s degree online. My husband Maxwell and I do have the money. I’m just waiting to see what they say. At the end of the day, if they decide they won’t give a discount, I will comply, even though I could use the savings.”

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.
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