School District To Start Charging For Pre-School Program

1-7-16 Meeting - 6

Board of Education president Ed Potosnak said the $5,900 yearly charge for the pre-K program is less than what surrounding districts charge.

The school district’s pre-school program will no longer be free for many students starting in the 2016-17 school year.

The Board of Education at its Jan. 28 meeting voted to charge most students a yearly tuition of $5,900 for the program.

Students qualified for the free and reduced lunch program, and special education students, would still be able to attend for free.

Board member Pat Stanley cast the sole “no” vote to the proposal.

Board president Ed Potosnak said during his report that the move was necessary to open the program to more students.

He said the combination of increased interest in the program and the state-mandated 2 percent cap on expenditures from year to year forced the district’s hand.

“We strongly believe that the best option is to provide the highest quality full-day care,” Potosnak said. He said the program “provides pre-schoolers with a strong start” to their educational careers.

The district currently has 263 students enrolled in the pre-K program, said interim board business administrator Jim Strimple.

Potosnak said charging the tuition would also allow the district to pay pre-K teachers “a living wage with benefits.”

The fee, which amounts to about $590 a month, is less than what surrounding school districts charge, Potosnak said.

Potosnak also said that the district this year used a grant to offset costs, but that grant is no longer available.

“We budgeted about $600,000 for pre-school, we’re spending $1.3 million,” he said. “We want to continue to prvide pre-K for all, but we need to make sure there’s enough money on the income side so we can accommodate all the folks. The only way to do that is to charge tuition.”

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said charging tuition for pre-K “is the model that most districts follow.”

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