School Committee votes to waive transportation, kindergarten fees

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By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

North Attleborough High School parents can look forward to a few less bills for the upcoming school year.

At its meeting on Monday, Aug. 3, the School Committee voted unanimously to waive bus and parking fees, and to make universal kindergarten free for fiscal year 2021, which runs from this July through the end of June. Superintendent Scott Holcomb said that the district has access to numerous revenue streams—such as the CARES Act and COVID Relief Fund— to cover coronavirus-related expenses.

In addition, it was recently announced that Chapter 70 school aid will remain level-funded instead of being cut as most were expecting. Holcomb said a 10-30 percent reduction to the funding was anticipated, due to a sharp decline in state revenues.

This allows us to make changes to the buildings to stop the spread of the virus,” he said.

Because of this and other savings, Holcomb recommended waiving the three fees for the coming school year. By not having a parking fee, he hopes that more students will drive to school. In particular, he said providing free kindergarten would benefit the children by teaching them skills in their formative years. For those that have already paid the fees, reimbursements can be done, and Town Manager Michael Borg said the process would be expedited as much as possible.

Committee member Ethan Hamilton hoped that the free kindergarten could continue in the future. Several area towns already offer this.

I feel great about it,” said Holcomb. “The administration all want the town to have universal, free, full-day kindergarten. It’s the right move to make. I would be happy to support that if we could sustain it.”