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Bridging the gap
by Jacob Lane · January 15, 2014

A possible increase in tuition for all-day preschool was presented to the board Monday night. The administration is looking for ways to increase revenue brought in by the Pre-K program.

This is due to a gap between revenue and expenses discovered in a financial report last year. The projected expense for the 2013/14 pre-K school year is around $687,000; however, the revenue expected to come in is only $619,000.

This leaves a $68,000 gap in funding needed for the pre-K program. Expenses in pre-K have grown for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, in the 2010/11 school year pre-K changed from a half-day to a full-day program in West Liberty. Secondly, increased standards by the Common Core program have encouraged many parents to leave their children in pre-K an extra year in order to give them a leg up in their future education.

The possible tuition raise, ranging from $210 to $230 per student as opposed to the $160 it is now, would bring in an additional $15,000 to $20,000 should the number of students in the Early Learning Center remain as projected.

However, the administration and board are looking to other avenues to increase revenue as well. For instance, the Head Start program, a federal program that helps low-income families provide schooling, will increase its pay-out toward schools per student in the next two years.

This should bring in a additional $7,000 in income next year, and even more after that. Also, there are more 5-year-old students projected to be in West Liberty next year. This should provide an additional $36,000.

Finally, the administration will look for ways to decrease spending, such as examining the teacher to student ratio and looking into how other school districts have reduced costs.

No final decisions were made during the meeting; rather, Superintendent Steve Hanson presented the plan to the board which will take effect unless the board decides to make any changes to it.

Also, the numbers provided were based on an assumed number of students for the upcoming year. The school won't know more about its options until pre-registration in February.

However, Hanson stated on behalf of the administration that the expenses are needed and are worth the investment.

In a report he provided to the board he stated that paying attention to students early on greatly helps them in the long run, such as improving graduation rates, reducing delinquency and allowing them to earn more as adults.

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