SALT LAKE CITY — Marla Love owns Arte Primero in Sugar House, where elementary-aged kids learn through art. In the summer, it’s an all-day summer camp. The other nine months of the year, Love offers an after-school program.
This year will be different.
When the Salt Lake City School District announced they will abandon in-person learning until at least October, Love said her phone exploded with desperate parents who cannot both work and home school.
“How do we make it work?” she said parents asked.
Love, who has two elementary-aged daughters of her own, will keep her studio open, and she and her staff will help kids manage their online learning.
It means increased costs, especially to pay for her employees who will now be working full days rather than just a few hours after school.
Now the tricky part: Keeping the lights on while also trying to keep costs down for parents who aren’t ready to pay for it.
“Parents prepare to send their kids to summer camp, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., June, July and August. They’re not prepared to pay summer camp prices for the other nine months of the year,” Love said.
She’s charging $230 per kid per week, which could mean an expense of about $8,200 for the entire academic school year if schools remain closed, or if parents aren’t comfortable sending their children to crowded campuses in the middle of the pandemic.
“To all of a sudden pivot and come up with thousands of dollars is so difficult for parents,” Love said.
For those who need educational help, there are lots of options — but they can quickly get pricey.
The KSL Investigators called around to school-based businesses in northern Utah and here’s what we learned:
Sending a student to a private school in Utah costs an average of $12,000 for the academic year, though we found some schools with tuitions surpassing $24,000.
Private schools frequently have waiting lists or require that students test into their classes.
Parents hoping to keep their kids up to speed with tutoring could expect to pay $30-$40 an hour for a professional tutor. With luck, you might find a younger tutor in high school or college for about half that.
If you need someone to just watch your kids in your house, we found lots available, but babysitting rates can still run around $1,000 or more per month for full-time help.
Expanding after school programs
We found several after school programs in the state doing the same as Arte Primero: expanding to full-day operations. Each one we spoke with said the rates would increase to reflect the longer hours.
The government-subsidized Neighborhood House in Salt Lake City, which caters to needy families, is among those expanding to full-day care where students can do remote learning from the facility.
Financial Crisis Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics helps explain the demand: 33.4 million families have children at home. That’s two-fifths of all American households.
In more than half (62.4%) of households with married parents, both parents work.
“We are in a financial crisis,” Love said. “Especially as parents, because if you have one, two, three, four, and in Utah, we have large families, what am I going to do? How am I going to pay?”
According to a survey by Bankrate.com, six out of 10 Americans could not cover an unexpected $1,000 bill without going into debt.
In another survey, Bankrate found that three in five parents said remote learning will negatively impact their finances.
Some parents to whom the KSL Investigators spoke said they will go into debt to cover the new, unexpected costs of child care while they go to work.
Others said they will reduce hours at work or quit their jobs to supervise their children’s remote learning from home.