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NKSD lowers cost for full-day kindergarten at all schools

POULSBO — Families enrolling their children in full-day kindergarten in the North Kitsap School District in 2014-15 will feel less impact on their pocketbooks.

The school board voted to lower the cost for kindergarten tuition during the Feb. 27 board meeting in Suquamish Elementary School.

Families paying full tuition will pay a maximum of $1,500 for full-day, down from $2,290. The cost for reduced tuition — for families on the free or reduced lunch plans — will pay a maximum of $750.

Board members Cindy Webster-Martinson, Bill Webb, and Scott Henden voted in favor of the motion to reduce the maximum tuition cost. Board President Dan Weedin and member Beth Worthington voted against it.

The board will officially establish program fees in March. The cost of full-day kindergarten tuition could lower, but the fees will not exceed the rates established Feb. 27.

Each elementary school will have one full-day kindergarten class.

Prior to the discussion of tuition rates, board member Bill Webb said providing free full-day kindergarten is a priority for him. He’s concerned about families that do not qualify for reduced tuition but can't afford full tuition. In the future, he said, the district needs to provide full-day kindergarten for everybody.

The decision to lower tuition rates follows the board's decision Jan. 23 to guarantee full-day kindergarten at all elementary schools.

It was recommended to leave tuition where it was — at least until the board had a better handle on next year's budget. Brenda Ward, the district's director of elementary education, said full-day kindergarten is a "great investment," but the decision is a financial one as well.

Both Weedin and Worthington felt the board was making a hasty decision.

"I'm actually feeling rushing with this right now," Weedin said. However, he added he would be in favor of lowering tuition later "if we can."

Worthington said the board should wait until the budget comes through, before making a decision on tuition.

This year, 179 students were enrolled in full-day programs, with 13 qualifying for scholarships to help lower costs and 55 getting tuition paid. The scholarships come from Rotary, Options, the Suquamish Tribe and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

The board discussed offering free full-day kindergarten at Pearson Elementary in January. If that happened, it would have cost the district between $89,000 and $133,500, according to board minutes for the Jan. 23 meeting.

If the board decided to offer full-day kindergarten at all schools, it would cost the district about $556,000.

Kindergarten registration in the district begins March 3.

 

 

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