So. Boone School Board Votes to Keep Preschool Tuition Costs the Same

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ASHLAND - The Southern Boone School Board voted 4-1 to keep preschool tuition costs the same. State funding through the Missouri Preschool Project was cut in half for the 2014-2015 school year. The school board anticipates nearly $14,000 in funding for next year through the grant as opposed to nearly $27,000 given to the school district this year.

Parents and teachers attended the meeting in support of the current preschool tuition. Board President Joe Miller called preschool the most important level of education. Board member Bruce Bauer was the only one to vote against keeping the preschool altogether.

Before the meeting, Superintendent Chris Felmlee anticipated the tuition would either stay the same or increase. He never thought the preschool would be eliminated.

"The board of education may tinker with the tuition. They may increase that higher per month, or they may choose to freeze it and watch it for another year," Felmlee said.

If the tuition costs were raised, Felmlee was concerned some parents would not be able to afford preschool for their children.

"There's concern if you increase the tuition, you may get less attainable for people to take advantage of meaning we'll see a reduction in the number of students that we're serving because we are no longer affordable for families to take advantage of the services," he said.

For some parents, like Amanda Old, the money was never a factor when it comes to her children's education.

"I mean, when they're this little, they're like a sponge. They soak up everything. You can't put a price on that," Old said.

Felmlee said even if the tuition increased, the quality of the services would stay the same regardless if there are less students in the program.

"We're not foreseeing a change in quality or any of the services. We would continue the services as is and just pay for it more ourselves," he said.

Since 2010, parents have paid a fee for their children to attend preschool. Parents who qualify for free/reduced lunch will still have their tuition waived.

(Editor's note: This story was updated after the school board meeting Monday night.)

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