Request for more Pre-K funding in Texas

Classroom, students (KXAN File Photo)
Classroom, students (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The goal is to create more high-quality pre-kindergarten programs throughout the state.

Chandra Villanueva with Center for Public Policy Priorities, says the length of the Pre-K school day is an important factor that should be prioritized. She says even if teachers have the best curriculum, they will still struggle to be effective if they don’t have enough time with students.

Villanueva says they want to get rid of the grant program altogether, saying it’s typically not enough for school districts. They’d rather the state just fund a full-day of Pre-K.

However, Stefani Hicks who lives in Round Rock, says she doesn’t even meet eligibility requirements to enroll her daughter in Pre-K. Hicks says they’re not in the category of low-income, but they still can’t afford private preschool. School districts accept select students into Pre-K based on certain criteria, like students who are low-income or speak English as a second language.

“It just becomes frustrating trying to get your daughter to get schooling so that she is ready for the public school system,” explains Hicks.

If the state is going to dole out more money, Hicks thinks it would be better spent on creating more spots for kids to join Pre-K.

“I’m okay with the idea of them having longer days, but they need to somehow make it to where more people are involved with this,” explains Hicks.

Legislators won’t be able to take any action on Pre-K funding until they head back into session in January.

Villanueva believes moving to full-day Pre-K would cost about $1.4 billion, double what the current cost is for half-day.

During the 2015 legislative session lawmakers passed House Bill 4. It allots $118 million in grants to fund classes for the 2016-2017 school years. Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee examined if more initiatives can be created to build on the grant program. Right now the rules to receive a grant require the district or charter school to meet certain curriculum standards, teacher qualifications, academic performance, and family engagement.

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