State proposes rate increase for A+ after-school program

Published: Nov. 12, 2015 at 8:44 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2015 at 11:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state is proposing to raise the price for the A+ after-school program by $35 a month over the next three years, bringing the monthly fee to $120 per child.

Department of Education officials say the increase is needed so the program remains financially self-sufficient, a requirement under state law.

The hike, which will go before the Board of Education on Tuesday, will cover rising operational and labor costs, including an increase in the minimum wage.

Without the fee increase, the program would run a deficit of nearly $400,000 in fiscal year 2018, the DOE said.

Some 19,500 students statewide attend A+ after-school programs, during which kids can do homework and play under supervision.

Previous increases to the A+ after-school fees have hit enrollment. In 2008, the program enrolled 28,000 students. By 2011, some 20,000 students were enrolled.

If approved, parents would see the first fee increase in 2016, when they'd pay $15 more a month. The monthly fee would then increase by $10 in 2017, and another $10 in 2018.

Amy Kunz, the DOE's senior assistant superintendent of the Office of Fiscal Services, said even with the increases, the program is still a deal.

The A+ program is offered at 180 sites statewide, and most are run by private providers.

Diane Tabangay, executive director of children's programs at YMCA Honolulu, said she's anticipating increasing operational costs for labor and training.

"To ensure quality we train our staff and that's also payroll dollars," she said.

The DOE acknowledged the hike will be a financial burden for some families, which is why they're hoping making the decision now will give parents more time to plan.

Officials also noted that there are subsidies available to eligible families.

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