Enrollment in Leander ISD’s pre-K program—expanding from half-day to full-day this August—is below projected enrollment numbers as of April 30, according to LISD.

In February, LISD officials estimated a 91.36% increase in enrollment to 775 students from the current half-day enrollment of 405 students.

As of April 30, LISD has enrolled only 75 students, with 128 pending. More than 35 children were deemed ineligible, according to the district.

The district had originally scheduled an April 14-15 pre-K registration at two campuses. After coronavirus concerns prompted the closure of all school campuses from spring break to the end of the school year, the district converted to an ongoing phone registration.

Families may now call during normal school hours one of the 13 elementary schools that will hold pre-K classes in August.

“With social distancing requirements inhibiting our ability to evaluate and register students in person, we are doing everything we can to use alternative ways to connect with our families," said Kendra Winans, LISD’s senior executive director of state and federal programs. “Our registrars are working with each family as we move forward.”

LISD spokesperson Rachel Acosta said the phone registration will suffice until registrars can secure documented proof of eligibility from each family. Families may either submit documents electronically or physically bring in documents when the district reopens.

The tuition-free program is open to children who live within district boundaries and will be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1, according to LISD. They must also meet at least one eligibility requirement:

  • unable to speak and understand the English language;

  • eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program;

  • homeless;

  • child of an active-duty member of the armed forces or a reservist on active duty;

  • child of a current or former military member who was injured or killed while on active duty; or

  • has ever been in the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

An explanation of the qualifications is available on the LISD website by clicking on "Eligibility requirements." A Spanish language page is available here.

All parents will need to provide the child's birth certificate, proof of address, proof of immunizations and a parent's ID. They will also need to provide proof that the child meets one of the eligibility requirements.

LISD also ended its plan to offer a limited number of tuition-based openings for children who did not qualify to receive free tuition.

There will also be a sizable increase in pre-K education costs—but LISD officials said local, state and national studies indicate pre-K education will save money for school districts in the long term.

Jennifer Freeman, LISD’s director of intervention services, said in February at-risk students who enter pre-K adjust better to K-12 instruction, score better on standardized testing and are less likely to require special education or other individualized instruction.

Officials are optimistic the enrollment numbers will increase, Winans said.

"Full-day pre-K is a great opportunity for many families, and we are hopeful that many more families in our area will take advantage of this amazing learning opportunity,” Winans said.