Can We Afford Private School Tuition?
My plan was falling in place, except for one last hurdle -- I needed the school district to pay Katie’s tuition. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I had heard stories about long, expensive battles between school districts and parents. I was about to hire a lawyer, and send him a retainer check, when someone advised me, “Talk to the district first.”
I wrote a letter to the director of pupil services, telling her about Katie’s challenges and why Willow Hill was better equipped to meet them. I thanked her for the support they had given Katie, but explained that Katie’s social needs were too great for the school to manage. The director responded immediately, saying, “You can discuss Katie’s placement at your upcoming IEP accommodations meeting.”
That meant waiting. Every night I pored over the Willow Hill brochure. As I read about their students who went on to college, and the school’s “everybody makes the team” sports policy, I grew more excited. “Oh, God, please let Katie get in to this school,” I prayed. Willow Hill was more than a school; it seemed to promise my daughter a future.
One evening I woke up, panicked. “What if she doesn’t get in? What if she does get in, but I’m making the wrong decision?”
I turned on my iPod to help me relax. Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” was the first song I heard. I hadn’t listened to the words before, until then: “Make a change, and break away.” As I listened to the song, I knew that Katie would get in to Willow Hill.
The next day Katie’s letter of acceptance arrived. I was ecstatic, but scared because I had to find a way to pay for it.
“I don’t care,” said my husband, Mike. “We’re sending her, one way or the other.”
“I don’t know how we can do that,” I said.
“What if we cut out the extras?”
“I don’t think food and heat are extras, Mike.”