The Booneville School Board last week approved giving employees who enroll their children, or those for which they are guardians, in the school’s pre-kindergarten program a break in the private pay price.
Superintendent John Parrish made the recommendation for a 20 percent discount for those employees after a short discussion that included a warning from board member to be prepared for backlash.
The 20 percent reduction amounts to a savings of $3.20 per day over the $16 full private pay rate. That equates to a savings of $569.60 over an entire school year, according to Parrish.
"My concern is with complaints," said Oliver. "We are opening ourselves up to complaints. I’ll vote for it, but you’d better be ready."
The complaints are likely to be few, however, because of the 60 students enrolled in the program last year only eight were private pay and some of those were discounted on an income-based sliding scale, elementary school principal Barbette Smithson told the board.
Parrish said there could also be some people upset if the district had a chance to do something for employees and didn’t.
"I think it would be a small token to give our (employees) a discount," said Parrish. "Some schools do it, some don’t."
Board member Carol Lloyd was concerned the school might be turning away students when employee’s kids are enrolled.
Parrish said enrollment is on a first come-first served basis, regardless of whether the student is a private pay or is funded through the state’s ABC program, or the federally funded TCBF program.
Parrish also said the school actually benefits more in terms of funding from the state and federal programs. The ABC program is limited to 30 students, but the federal program has no cap, he said.
There are currently 60 students enrolled for 2013-2014 and a waiting list of three, Smithson said. Parrish added if the list were to grow to 15, a fourth class would be added and the elementary school could accommodate it.
After saying "anything we can do for our teachers to help out," Stacey McCollough moved to accept Parrish’s recommendation on the discount. Lloyd seconded the motion.
As for the program itself, Smithson is more than pleased.
Smithson said after pre-registration kindergarten teachers assessed 68 of the incoming kindergartners. Of those 25 scored 70 percent on the test, and 15 of those were enrolled in the pre-kindergarten program. Six actually scored 90 percent or better and five of those were pre-k students, she added.
"They were really impressed with how much they knew," said Smithson of her kindergarten teachers.
In other matters last week the board approved policy handbooks for the district, all three campuses, the band program and the athletics department.