2013-02-06 / Front Page

Tuition increase established for k’garten complement program

BY JACK MURTHA
Staff Writer

MARLBORO — Residents who wish to place their children in the Marlboro K-8 School District kindergarten complement program will pay a heftier enrollment fee in the 2013-14 school year.

The Board of Education voted at its Jan. 15 meeting to raise the tuition for the program from $4,750 to $5,000 per child. District administrators cited the need to hire an instructional aide who will serve certain students in each of the six anticipated classrooms as the reason for the price hike.

“We are doing it as cheaply as possible, but at the same time, we are making sure it is a very high-quality program,” Superintendent of Schools David Abbott said.

Teacher salary hikes and rising health benefits costs also played into the increased tuition rate, Business Administrator Cindy Barr-Rague said.

The kindergarten complement program runs from 9:10 a.m. to 3:40 p.m., according to the district’s Internet website. Parents only face a cost for the optional extension of the district’s regular half-day kindergarten session.

The district launched the initiative in the 2011-12 school year as a means to help the community and to add revenue to the district’s coffers, board President Michael Lilonsky said.

Parents paid a $4,000 fee to enroll their children in the first year of the program, board member BonnieSue Rosenwald noted.

In the 2012-13 school year the tuition jumped to $4,750 due to the need to hire lunch aides, as students were no longer permitted to dine in their classrooms.

Some board members took issue with the fact that tuition for the program has spiked yet again for 2013-14.

“I was not happy with the amount ($750) we went up (this) school year, but I understood it … because we really enhanced the program to deal with a need we did not foresee,” Rosenwald said. “The purpose of the program was to deal with an issue to help our community, and I think that by raising it by $1,000 (in two years), we are not helping the community.”

Students with disabilities who require extra attention are directed to alternative kindergarten options, rather than the district’s kindergarten complement program, Abbott said.

He said the kindergarten complement program now requires an instructional aide because of unforeseen behavioral issues that have been detected in some children this school year.

Because those students are already enrolled in the program, the district must provide them with special care, even though they are not designated students with permanent special needs, Abbott added.

As of now, one instructional aide serves students in the traditional kindergarten program and in the kindergarten complement program, Barr-Rague said.

Next year, the district will designate one aide to only assist children in the kindergarten complement program, she said.

“This one is an instructional issue and it is affecting other children’s education,” Abbott said. “I believe this is the most cost-effective way to ensure that we can address the issue.”

When asked if he believed the one additional aide would improve the program, Abbott said he believes it would make a “big difference.”

Board members said they believe that if tuition for the kindergarten complement program continues to rise, the district may price itself out of the market.

The board and administration may eventually have to decide whether the district will have to take on some of the financial obligations or cut the kindergarten complement program altogether, Lilonsky said.

Even with the price increase, Marlboro K-8 officials maintained that the district offers full-day kindergarten at a lower price than most private institutions.

Barr-Rague said parents enjoy the benefit of busing provided by the district.

All of the kindergarten pupils attend school at the Marlboro Early Learning Center, Tennent and Harbor roads.

Board Vice President Victoria Dean said she paid a higher fee for her children to attend a private kindergarten that did not bus students to and from school.

Despite concerns about the cost, the quality of the kindergarten complement program will continue to entice parents, Rosenwald said.

“We still have to remember that we have an outstanding program, and that is the bottom line,” she said.

Administrators expect the kindergarten complement program to generate nearly $100,000 in revenue during the 2013-14 school year, Barr-Rague said.

That figure has been the goal for the program since its inception, according to previously published News Transcript articles.

A nonrefundable $500 deposit will be due by May 1, 2013, and is encouraged to be paid at the time of registration for the 2013-14 program.

A $2,250 payment will be due in July, and the final $2,250 will be due by early December, according to the district.

A 2 percent charge will be added to the bills of those who submit their payments past the deadline. Due to space constraints, admission into the kindergarten complement program is decided through a lottery, according to the district. For more information, visit www.marlboro.k12.nj.us.

— Contact Jack Murtha
at jmurtha@gmnews.com.

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