By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The school department’s full-day kindergarten tuition rate will not be increasing next year, school officials informed the Villager after the paper went to press on April 8.
Selectman candidate Katy Shea accused the School Committee of voting to increase the full-day kindergarten tuition rate this week. In a Facebook post, Shea said the full-day kindergarten tuition rate increased from $2,500 in the 2013-2014 school year to $2,600 for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year.
According to School Finance Director Tom Geary, the full-day kindergarten tuition rate is $2,600. He said the rate has not changed since the tuition-based full-day kindergarten program was launched during the 2004-2005 school year.
“I have been here nine years and the tuition rate has not increased since I have been here,” Geary informed the Villager.
Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay confirmed Geary’s comments in a phone interview with the Villager.
“The bottom line is since the inception of the program, it has always been $2,600,” said Tremblay. “We have always thought it was fair and equitable.”
Tremblay and Geary both noted the school department gives a discount to families who have more than one child enrolled in full-day kindergarten. The tuition rate for twins is $3,500 and the tuition rate for triplets is $4,500.
According to Geary, the kindergarten program, including both the tuition-based full-day program and the free half-day .7 program, costs $800,000 each year. He said the tuition covers the difference between the half-day program and full-day program.
Geary said the school department’s full-day kindergarten account balance accumulates over the course of the school year. He noted parents have the option to request a payment plan in order pay the cost of full-day kindergarten.
According to Geary, the school department has collected about $246,000 in kindergarten tuition this year. He said the school department collects between $250,000 and $280,000 a year, but he said, “There have been years when we’ve collected more or less.”
“It all really is driven by enrollment, which varies in any given year,” Geary added.
According to Geary, the full-day kindergarten program has become more popular the past several years since it was introduced.
There were limited slots available when the program first started, but now most of the town’s kindergarteners are enrolled in the full-day program, the Villager was told. All classes have a mix of half-day and full-day students.
Geary said the funds generated from the full-day kindergarten program offset the school budget.
“The program offsets the school budget, but full-day kindergarten expenses are included in the budget,” said Geary.