Traverse City Record-Eagle

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April 5, 2013

TCAPS mulls preschool tuition break

TRAVERSE CITY — A plan under consideration by the Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education could help local families save big bucks on preschool education next year.

Families that qualify for free or reduced-price school meals can also qualify to save more than $1,000 on preschool tuition for the 2013-14 school year, if the board approves the plan at Monday night's board meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at TCAPS' Boardman Avenue administration office.

TCAPS will use the reduced tuition to fill open slots in existing preschool programs, TCAPS Chief Financial Officer Paul Soma said. About 40 preschool slots went unfilled this year. That number resulted in an estimated $170,000 in unclaimed revenue for the district.

Filling those slots, even at reduced tuition rates, will increase TCAPS' revenue without increasing district costs.

"This is about trying to be as efficient as possible," Soma said.

The reduced tuition program was the idea of Jame McCall, TCAPS' executive director for special education and early childhood education, Soma said.

McCall was not available for comment.

Board of Education member Megan Crandall said the reduced tuition program helps families who don't qualify for free preschool and can't afford full tuition costs.

"It really seems to make a lot of sense," Crandall said. "We are trying to move more and more toward universal preschool, and this is a way to do it."

Other items on the agenda for Monday night's meeting include a bond review update from Superintendent Stephen Cousins, and a discussion of tenure contracts.

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