This week, we did the seemingly unthinkable. We signed our child up for kindergarten.
I realize parents do this every year, and for many of us, our hearts wrench at the idea of our babies growing up. But for our family, we had a challenging decision to make. It was whether or not to go public.
You're probably wondering how a family who's underemployed can seriously consider going private. Here's why.
I'll set the test scores and desire to have my family's values reinforced at a greater level than can be done in the public schools aside. Those were serious considerations, but we thought still that private school tuition was unattainable given our limited budget.
But we had to face reality. In Indiana, a cut in property taxes is causing chaos for school districts. Teachers are being cut. Services are being cut. Transportation is being weighed.
And even if we're at status quo for the next school year, we'd be forced to drive over our lunch hour to the schools to either pick up or drop off our child, as kindergarteners are only bussed in one direction. For working/student parents, it's difficult to rearrange schedules on a consistent basis.
In other words, IF we were lucky, I'd be able to do a swing from work to school and back in maybe an hour. Consider the time wasted, the mileage, the gas and the wear on our vehicle.
I don't necessarily believe school should be scheduled at the convenience of the parents, but the realities of this society are that many parents are balancing multiple work and school responsibilities. And the fact that you now have several classes of families making special round-trips to the school each day is an environmental mess.
We finally did the math, and we were surprised. We factored in the cost of daycare and after-school care (only needed on my husband's school days), the impact of the mileage. The full-day kindergarten tuition we thought was vastly unaffordable actually made better financial (and environmental) sense than anything else. And the shorter drive to the school - even without bussing - was a much better decision for our family. In the end, we'll save some stress and have less hours in the car. And that's the best choice for us.
What I'm saying is, if you're making a big decision that you think's already made for you, you might be wrong. What's on the surface unattainable might in reality be the best decision for you.