2012-03-22 / Front Page
Klubhouse tuition goes up
Despite pleas from parents whose children attend Klubhouse Preschool, the Calabasas City Council approved a tuition rate increase last week. It’s the second year in a row the fees have been raised.
Effective in September, tuition rates for the city-owned preschool at Creekside Park will go up by 5 percent for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds and 10 percent for 2-year-olds.
The preschool serves 114 preschoolers and has 15 full-time employees and seven hourly workers. Last year the council approved a fee increase of 10 percent for residents and 17 percent for nonresidents. Before last year tuition had not increased at the school since 2006.
Current monthly tuition for full-time students is $832 for Calabasas residents and $917 for nonresidents. Fees for five halfdays are $628 for residents and $693 for nonresidents.
Residents with children in one of the 2-year-old programs will pay from $49 to $83 more per month and nonresidents between $54 and $92 per month. The monthly rate for programs serving older children will increase by $24 to $42 for residents and $27 to $46 for nonresidents.
“Nobody likes to raise fees on working families . . . but it will close the gap a little bit,” said Jeff Rubin, director of community services for Calabasas.
The new rates will generate an additional $4,740, which should equal an 88 percent recovery rate if enrollment trends remains the same. The city’s goal is to recover 90 percent of operating costs.
A dozen parents urged city officials to postpone the price increase.
“It’s a worthy goal to reduce the deficit . . . but the prospect of yet another tuition increase is an untenable and unreasonably high burden on the current enrollees of the Calabasas Klubhouse,” said Rachel Stillwell, a Woodland Hills resident who enrolled her daughter at the preschool in April last year.
Aside from subsidizing the preschool program, the city pays a $460,000 annual mortgage for the Creekside property.
“Those costs are not being passed on to the parents,” said City Manager Tony Coroalles The 10-year loan will be paid off in 2016.
Like all parks, Coroalles said, the facility is an asset to the community and it would be unfair for patrons to pay for the mortgage.
Calabasas resident Joy Gelb said the park facilities should be more accessible to everyone in neighboring communities.
Currently Creekside Park is open to the public only from 5:30 p.m. until dark on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.
“I’m not saying get rid of the Klubhouse . . . but take the fence and move it back . . . so we can use the facilities for the people of Calabasas. That’s only fair since we’re paying for it,” she said.
Councilmember Lucy Martin agreed that the city should come up with a better compromise. When the city proposed to purchase the park and the 5,400-square-foot building in the late 1990s it was pegged as a community center that would be available to the public for senior activities and private meetings, she said.
Councilmember Mary Sue Maurer suggested that parents with young children be allowed to use the park even when school is in session.
“They have a strong desire to take their children to run around outside, and we don’t have that,” she said.
Councilmember Fred Gaines posed a different plan. He said the city should contemplate building a toddler playground in neighboring Wild Walnut Park as an alternative.
Officials reassured parents that the city has no plans to shut down the preschool in the foreseeable future. Before approving the tuition increase, the council directed city staff to publicize the open hours at Creekside Park so residents will know they can use the facilities in the evening and on weekends.
In a related matter, the City Council agreed to double the daily fees for lap swimmers at Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center in an attempt to alleviate overcrowding in the recreation center’s pool.
The increase will only affect lap swimmers who don’t have a membership. As of May, prices will go from $3 to $6 for adults and $2 to $4 for seniors. Fees for family open swim time will remain unchanged.
Purchased by the city in 1994, the Tennis & Swim Center includes a playground, saunas, snack bar, adult lap pool, children’s training pool, 16 tennis courts, and workout and meeting rooms.
The city increased fees for members by 10 percent in July 2011. Memberships are at capacity, so prospective members would wait about 4½ years if they put their names on the list today, said Dan Huncke, recreation services manager for the center.
About 55 percent of the people who use the pool for lap swimming are nonmembers. On average, each lap swimmer uses the pool two or three times per week.
“Day-use fees have been stagnant for many years. It’s more than fair that lap swimmers pay their fair share,” said Calabasas resident Victor Kenton, a swimmer who has been using the pool since 1988 and who hopes the higher fees will ease the pool overcrowding.