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ORANGE : Parents Will Offer Day-Care Fee Plan

Parents in the Orange Unified School District who are angry about a tuition hike that requires students receiving part-time day care to pay full-time fees will propose an alternative plan to the school board later this month.

The district’s increases will quadruple tuition for some children and will affect most of the 1,100 children in the schools’ day-care program. The plan is designed to ease the program’s $250,000 deficit, a district official said.

Vicki Markley, whose second-grade son has attended day care at Crescent Primary School in Anaheim for three years, called the increases “unlivable.” Markley, a part-time bank supervisor and student, now pays $41 a month for four hours of day care a week. Her new fee is $160 per month.

“We’re willing to pay more for what it costs to take care of our children,” Markley said, “But I think it’s discriminatory to say ‘we will provide only full-time care’ when most of the children are part time.”

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Don Ebberts of Anaheim, a representative of the district’s Parent Advisory Committee for Child Care, said that the committee was warned about the deficit last February but that the board raised fees without consulting parents. Ebberts met Wednesday with district officials to discuss alternatives and said the committee will recommend two tuition plans at the May 24 school board meeting.

Robert Howell, director of pupil services for the district, said the day-care program was designed in 1984 for full-time use and was expanded to include 25 different pay schedules to accommodate parents who needed from four to 30 hours of day care per week.

Rising operational costs and a new employee contract adding fringe benefits contributed to the deficit, endangering the program, Howell said.

“It would be irresponsible for the board to continue with a program that is losing money,” Howell said. “It’s a double bind because we want to meet community needs but you need to be (fiscally) responsible too.”

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Before the tuition increase, fees ranged from about $41 to $253, Ebberts said. Monthly fees for the coming school year will be $220 for kindergarten, $160 for grades one through three and $140 for grades four through six.

Day care before school hours costs $40 extra per month.

“They are working with us and they haven’t shut us down,” Ebberts said of the school board. “We’re hopeful that it will work out. We’re counting on it.”


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