Our summer fun is quickly coming to an end. And so begins the Back-to-School whirlwind. There are school uniforms and shoes to be bought. Backpacks. And an endless supply of notebooks, pencils and every school supply imaginable multiplied by four.
Today, I got the first taste of the Back-to-School madness.
Jr. High registration for returning students was this morning at 9. So last night, before I went to bed, I gathered everything I might need: Hope's report card, birth certificate and immunization record. It wasn't really hard to find. I kept everything in the same folder from last year's registration, including one tiny detail I had forgotten...La Cuota Voluntaria!
Almost every school in Mexico has a Cuota Voluntaria. It's a "voluntary" payment made each school year for repairs, maintenance and whatever else the school might need. (Just not a substitute teacher! But we already discussed that over here.)
The Cuota Voluntaria varies from school to school. The Kindergarten Cuota is only 150 pesos per year, while the Elementary School Cuota is 250 pesos. At both schools, parents have until December to pay the Cuota Voluntaria to either the Parent-Teacher Association or the school office, and can do so in weekly or monthly payments.
But the Junior High Cuota is handled a little differently. The parents must deposit the money (300 pesos) directly to the school's bank account, then present the receipt at the school for registration. There's no need for the bank account number, because our town is so small there's only one Junior High and the bank tellers know the account number by heart.
But don't let the name Cuota Voluntaria fool you. The word "Voluntaria" is a little misleading. To me, "Voluntary" means that we can choose to pay it or not. It's not like it's MANDATORY! Ah, but it is! Parents are reminded to pay the Cuota Voluntaria at every school meeting. Some schools (not the ones my kids attend) will actually withhold a child's report card if the Cuota isn't paid by the end of the school year. Other schools (again, not the ones my kids attend) won't allow a child to attend school if the Cuota isn't paid at registration. And here I thought it was Voluntaria!
But it's not all bad. If you're like me, in that you have a large family, these Cuota Voluntarias can add up to a lot of dinero. I have four kids in three different schools. And this is actually where the schools are very understanding. If a parent has more than one child attending the same school, they are only required to pay ONE Cuota Voluntaria!
And we all know that...A peso saved is a peso earned!