Westerly preschool costs to go up to $200 per month

WESTERLY — Parents who send their children to the school district’s pre-school program will have to pay a bit more following a recent vote of the School Committee.

Committee members voted unanimously during their April 10 meeting to increase the tuition from $170 per month to $200 per month. The program is run at Babcock Hall.

In recent months, as they worked on the school district’s proposed 2019-20 budget, School Committee members asked whether the tuition being charged was appropriate. On Wednesday, noting the previous discussion, Superintendent of Schools Mark Garceau suggested bumping the tuition up to $200 per month.

“I think it’s a reasonable recommendation but it’s up to you,” Garceau told the committee.

Garceau provided the School Committee with an analysis of tuition charged by some other school districts in the state as well as private preschool programs in the town. The Westerly program, which children can attend for four half-days per week, was one of the least expensive when compared to programs that offer the same number of half-day sessions per week. The Westerly program offers four half-day sessions per week.

As a parent of a child who completed the preschool program, committee member Tim Killam said the bump in cost was justified. “What they provide is incredible,” Killam said.

The Westerly program is an inclusional one serving both children ages 3-5 with and without disabilities or developmental delays. The school offers morning and afternoon sessions. Morning sessions are for age 3 while afternoon sessions are for 4- and 5-year-olds.

The Westerly program is ranked as a five-star program by Bright Stars, an accreditation agency that ranks child care and early education programs in the state.

The tuition is not intended to cover the full cost of running the program, Garceau said. “It’s a slight offset,” he said.

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