I've been looking for a preschool for Genoa for next Fall and so far the process has been about as fun as my annual papsmear. Here's a numbered list of the individual pains in my ass:
1. Alex will be in Kindergarten from 9:25 until 12:05. I could spend a thousand words complaining about everything that's wrong with that (2.5 hours is ALL!?!), but I'll spare you.
2. We are within the "walking radius" of our neighborhood school, which is awesome! except for the part where he's too young to walk to school yet by himself. It also means we aren't eligible for the bus. So I have to either walk him there myself or drive him there on bad-weather days. So after I factor in the 15 minute round trip it will take me from my garage to the school and back twice a day, I'm left with TWO WHOLE HOURS alone. This is less than I get now while he's in preschool during Genoa's nap.
3. I need to WORK while Alex is at school, which means the timing needs to maximize the very few hours I'll be childfree each week. This means it's absolutely necessary that Genoa's preschool hours, whatever they are, fall OUTSIDE of Alex's Kindergarten hours. By this I mean that I need to drop her off FIRST and pick her up LAST, otherwise I'm eating into my PRECIOUS TWO HOURS.
4. Alex's current preschool has a program for three-year-olds that it is awesome and cheap ($100 a month!) but runs from 9-12:00 and wouldn't work A) because of the time (I'd have to pick her up first) and B) because it's only two days a week. NOT ENOUGH TIME.
5. I briefly considered the closest Montessori school, but it's FIVE TIMES the cost and the program runs from 8:30 to 11:30 five days a week, which would mean I'd have about an hour after making the drive every day. That would be a REALLY EXPENSIVE hour.
6. After schlepping Alex all the way across town to Kingdom Come last year (at a fuel cost of close to $200 a month!), geography has become THE MOST IMPORTANT factor for me. I know I should be all worried about discipline style and teaching credentials, but I've been around the block. This will be our FIFTH preschool in as many years. It's JUST PRESCHOOL. We focus on the academics at home, so as long as the facility is clean and safe, it's FINE.
7. There are FOUR schools within a two-mile radius from my house.
8. I started calling them on Friday.
9. They are all daycares, which is fine because it means I'll be able to pick ANY five hours I want on the days she attends school. I pick: 8:00 to 1:00!
10. The prices for these four schools VARY DRAMATICALLY.
11. I thought Kindercare (the closest one to my house) was outrageous when they quoted me 3 half-days a week for $508 per month. (Actually, they quoted me $127 per WEEK, which is a silly way of making it SEEM less outrageously expensive.) But then I called ANOTHER upscale school nearby and it was even MORE expensive! The conversation went like this:
ME: I was calling to see what your rates are for half-days.
HIM: Why don't you come on down for a school tour!
ME (with my hackles up because... give me an effing BREAK, I'm not stupid enough to come down there and fall in love with your stupid fancy school and decide to spend twice as much as I want to just because it's so PRETTY. Am SMARTER THAN THAT!): Uh, why don't you just save us both some time and go ahead and give me your prices here over the phone.
HIM: Okay, but I do really think the best thing is for you to come and look at the school.
ME: How much is it for three half-days a week?
HIM: Let me calculate the weekly price.
ME: Do you charge weekly or monthly?
ME: Well then give me the MONTHLY price please.
HIM: Fine, but everyone else quotes weekly prices.
ME: But that just means I'll have to use my calculator. I want the monthly price please.
HIM: Fine, it's: $600 for three half days.
ME: Wow, that's even more than Kindercare! I thought that was impossible!
HIM (smugly): We are SO MUCH BETTER than Kindercare.
ME: laughs out loud
HIM: I understand if your budget can't accommodate a school like ours, but you should have no trouble finding a less expensive church or government program...
ME (annoyed as hell): Actually, we HAVE the budget, it's just... NOT COLLEGE, it's PRESCHOOL. Your prices are way too high.
HIM: Well, most other school only require a high school diploma of their teachers. Many of ours have PhD's! We have to pay them more and the price reflects their education levels.
ME (trying impossibly hard not to roll my eyes a full 360 degrees into my head): It's JUST PRESCHOOL. Thank you for time. Good bye.
For the record? As far as I'm concerned teaching the average preschool class does not require anything even CLOSE to a Phd. It requires is a reservoir of patience the size of the pacific ocean. This is a quality I, myself, will never possess, but it's also a quality that no amount of higher education can teach. The director's patronizing tone and implication that I just didn't CARE enough about my daughter to spend that much on her preschool really pissed me off.
12. The fourth school I called had decent rates. The best part is that if my business does well (CROSSING MY FINGERS), I can increase her time there to five days a week and it's still less than the snooty school would cost for three days a week. WIN.