By Tricia Roddy
Princeton City Schools
As of Monday, July 25, the Princeton Board of Education voted to approve removing the cost of tuition for full-day kindergarten residents of the district.
Full-day kindergarten will be free for the 2022-2023 school year until all full-day classrooms have reached capacity. Once all full-day classrooms are filled, students will continue to have half-day opportunities. Students may be placed in adjacent neighborhood schools if classrooms are full and space is available in another elementary building. Princeton will provide transportation for all kindergarten students.
Due to the Covid pandemic, and the hybrid nature of schooling in 2021, the Princeton Board of Education had reduced the monthly tuition for full-day kindergarten from $396 to $196. Previously, families who were eligible for financial assistance were placed on a sliding scale fee with the potential to qualify for free tuition.
“The district has been able to cover the cost of reduced tuition for full-day kindergarten due to ESSER relief dollars,” explained Superintendent Tom Burton. “As a result, the Princeton Board of Education has seen the value of reduced cost options for kindergarten and entered discussions about shifting to a no-tuition kindergarten program in the 2023-2024 school year. It became evident during those public discussions that all board members agreed – kindergarten is too important, and the district should not wait another year to make this full-day option available to all residents, regardless of ability to pay.”
“The board of education sets the tuition rate for kindergarten annually,” explained Tonya West Wright, Assistant Superintendent – Curriculum and Instruction. In addition to providing free instruction, the board voted to hire eight additional primary education paraprofessionals to aid in the classrooms in each elementary school.
The program will be funded partially with remaining ESSER funding for the 2022-2023 school year. ESSER is a one-time federal funding program intended to support school districts in meeting needs related to or caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The full-day kindergarten program will be studied and evaluated to determine both the learning success of the students in the cohort and the cost of continuing the program tuition-free. Princeton City Schools remains committed to fiscal transparency and responsible management of funds while meeting the needs of students in the community.
The Board of Education at Princeton City School District is committed to empowering each student for college, career, and life success, starting with the youngest learners.
For additional information, visit www.princetonschools.net.