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Francis Howell Raises Tuition for Pre-School, Vacation Station

Board votes to increase rates for two programs at first meeting of 2012.

Tuition rates for Francis Howell preschools and Vacation Station will be going up.

Following a work session on the subject during the last meeting of 2011, the Board voted Thursday to raise the tuition. The Board voted 5-1 to increase the tutition for preschools and Vacation Station—Mark Lafata was the lone no vote and Cynthia Bice was absent from the meeting.

Vacation Station provides before and after school care for students, as well as intersession care while preschool has learning programs for students ages 3 to 5. Chief Financial Officer Kevin Supple said that the goal of the programs is to operate on a break-even basis. After not raising tutition for several years, rates have gone up in each of the past four years. Supple said the proposed rates are comparable to other programs around the region. 

Here's a breakdown of the changes.

Preschool       Half Day Tuition Rate 2011-12 Tuition Rate 2012-13 Tuition Rate Percent Change Per Day Rate $18.25 $19.00 4.11% Full Day Tuition Rate 2011-12 Tuition Rate 2012-13 Tuition Rate Percent Change Full Week $180.00 $184.00 2.22%   Vacation Station Half Day Tuition Rate 2011-12 Tuition Rate 2012-13 Tuition Rate Percent Change Per Day Rate $18.25 $19.00 4.11% Full Day Tuition Rate 2011-12 Tuition Rate 2012-13 Tuition Rate Percent Change Full Week $180.00 $184.00 2.22%

Board Talks Fair Tax

Following the lead of other Boards around the region, the Francis Howell leaders heard a report on the so-called Fair Tax Initiative. A proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution would eliminate income tax, but instead tax everything else with a few exceptions. For example, school lunches wouldn't have to be taxed, but preschool or Vacation Station would because of the parameters. 

After a lengthy presentation by Supple about the tax, the Board discussed if it should take a stand on the issue. Lafata said he didn't think that was he, and the others, were elected to do. 

"It's not really the Board of Education's job," he said. … "It's up to the voters."

Others agreed. Mike Hoehn said it would be a slippery slope for the Board to weigh in on the issue with so many other issues at hand.

"Where do we stop," he said.

Marty Hoditis spoke out against the proposal saying the fair tax was only going to benefit a small portion of people. He said property taxes would likely go up to compensate for the lost revenue.

Still, with the issue still in development stages, the Board agreed that now is not the right time to come out for or against the issue. The Board agreed that, with the District on the receiving end of a significant portion of state money, that it would be wise to monitor the situation, but not speak out right now. That could change in the future, but, for now, the Board decided it was content to just be aware of the item and the future

Turf Talk Heats Up

For the second straight Board meeting, conversation during the public comments portion of the night focused on just one thing: turf. Francis Howell High School has synthetic grass one the athletic field with North and Central do not. A group of Central supporters, including head football coach Todd Birk, came to the meeting Thursday to make a pitch for the turf field. 

Birk said he has been patient for the last two-and-a-half years that Howell has been turfed and his school still has grass, but he would like to see all three Francis Howell high schools gets the fake stuff. He said it would help with practices, games and just general all-around use. 

Mike Hodges, a parent, said a synthetic surface would be less hard—he compared the current field to concrete. Hodges also said it would help out athletes and the school by eliminating weather issues. This fall the boys soccer team at Central had a home playoff game moved because of poor field conditions after a storm. 

The turf issue isn't on the agenda for the school board just yet, but could be in a few meetings. As part of the Francis Howell project, money is being used on athletic facilities. Parents and boosters said they have spoken with Supple to see if they could get some money to turf the field. 

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