As the School Committee mulls a proposal to charge an enrollment fee for some preschoolers at the Capuano Early Childhood Center, the school district's financial director recommends collecting all fees up front, if implemented.
"Optimally, fees would be paid in a lump sum at the start of the school year," finance director Patricia Durette wrote in a memo to the committee, while adding that a payment schedule "could be broken out by semester, quarter, or monthly," and administered by the Business Office.
The School Committee is weighing a proposal to charge families of four earning about $90,000 per year a maximum fee of $2,880 per year.
Families whose children qualify for free or reduced lunch would not pay a fee. Neither would families of preschoolers on a special education track.
In what he called an informal proposal, School Committee member Mark Niedergang suggested a fee structure on Wednesday at a meeting of the financial and buildings subcommittee, which he chairs.
Under his formula, families of four earning between $85,000 and $90,000 would pay $2,400 per year; those earning between $80,000 and $85,000 would pay $1,920; those earning between $75,000 and $80,000 would pay $1,440; and those earning less than $75,000 would pay nothing.
"That's very simplistic," he said. "And we'll probably end up with something more complicated than that."
His colleague M. Teresa Cardoso made it clear that she'd rather see nothing at all.
"I think we're nuts [if we charge]," she said, noting that other districts view Somerville's free preschool program as an impressive achievement.
Cardoso does not sit on the subcommittee but attended Tuesday's meeting, as did her colleague Mary Jo Rossetti, who backs the plan, in light of expected state cuts to education.
"We have to start making tough decisions," she said. "I'll be voting in favor of charging for preschool."
The full School Committee is scheduled to vote on the measure by year's end.