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At a meeting Tuesday night, the Smackover-Norphlet School Board voted to raise the Smackover Preschool tuition by $10 a week starting next school year with a second $10 increase to be implemented the following year.

The increase, Special Programs Director Teri Philyaw said, is to keep up with the minimum wage increase that passed in November. The statutory amendment raised the minimum wage to $9.25 at the beginning of this year, $10 at the beginning of 2020 and $11 at the beginning of 2021.

Philyaw said this tuition increase is to keep the preschool where it currently is financially while still paying the employees at least at minimum wage.

As it is, tuition for the Smackover Preschool is $95 a week for the infants and toddlers, and $85 a week for 3-4 year olds. Both groups will go up by $10 for the 2019-20 school year and another $10 for the 2020-21 school year.

For the 3-4 year olds there are 20 tuition-paying slots. The school also has 60 Arkansas Better Choice (ABC) slots, which are for low-income families who can’t afford to pay the tuition rate. The school receives $4,860 per ABC student from the state.

Philyaw said most of the need for the increase comes from the after-school care the school offers from 3:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day. She said that the school day itself is a full eight hours, which means the school has to call in part-time workers for the after-school hours. The after-school program is included in the weekly tuition.

Michael Shine may be reached at 870-862-6611 or mshine@eldoradonews.com. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook @MichaelAZShine for updates on Union County school news.

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