New Braunfels ISD discontinues pre-K program for 3-year-olds after decrease in funding

NBISD will not offer a pre-K program for 3-year-olds during the 2020-21 school year. (Monica Romo/Community Impact Newspaper)
NBISD will not offer a pre-K program for 3-year-olds during the 2020-21 school year. (Monica Romo/Community Impact Newspaper)

NBISD will not offer a pre-K program for 3-year-olds during the 2020-21 school year. (Monica Romo/Community Impact Newspaper)

The New Braunfels Independent School District board of trustees voted June 29 to establish a Head Start partnership with the Community Council of South-Central Texas.

CCSCT was awarded the Head Start grant in March by the Office of Head Start within the Administration for Children and Families, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The nonprofit will provide Head Start services to Comal and Guadalupe counties.

According to the Office of Head Start, the organization awards five-year grants to public and private nonprofit and for-profit agencies that provide Head Start educational, health, nutritional and social services for children with developmental disabilities or whose family’s income is below the national poverty level.

Baptist Child and Family Services previously held the grant and worked with NBISD over the last six years to provide full-day pre-K for over 200 students, according to the school district.

Through BCFS, NBISD received $478,000 to provide full day pre-K for all eligible 4-year-old students and 51 eligible 3-year-old students, according to Victoria Pursch, NBISD's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

According to the district, administration was notified June 18 that CCSCT had been awarded the grant, and on June 24 NBISD administration held a video conference with CCSCT to discuss funding options and a new partnership.

Initially, CCSCT offered to partially fund services for 34 3-year-old students and did not offer support for 4-year-old students, Pursch said.

“Originally their grant only included serving New Braunfels School District for 34 3-year-old children, and they would have given us only $78,000 rather than the $478,000 that we have gotten in the past several years from BCFS,” Pursch said.

Through further negotiations, CCSCT offered to provide $150,000 in funding and to continue services for 34 eligible 4-year-old students transitioning from the program for 3-year-olds, according to the district.

Because of limited funding through the new partnership, the NBISD trustees decided to discontinue the pre-K program for 3-year-old students during the 2020-21 school year.

“We are not required as a public school to offer a 3-year-old program,” Pursch said. “One of the ways we can manage this financially is to not offer a 3-year-old program.”

According to the Texas Education Agency, school districts with 15 or more children who are 4 years of age on or before Sept. 1 of the current school year must offer prekindergarten classes, while programs for 3-year-olds are optional.

The district also voted to raise tuition costs from $450 per month to $500 per month for all Head Start ineligible students, including children of public school employees who previously were able to be enrolled in pre-K for free.

“In a tight budget and in a loss of quite a bit of money, we do not feel we can continue to offer tuition free pre-K to employees of our public school system,” Pursch said.

An additional $42,000 was added to the district’s 2020-21 school year budget to cover the remaining costs related to the pre-K program, and teachers previously working in the program for 3-year-olds have been transitioned to other positions within NBISD, according to the district.

“We’re finding places in the district where they can continue to have a teaching job,” Pursch said. “While we were very sad to have lost the really great partnership we had, we do believe we can continue to run a strong 4-year-old program.”
By Lauren Canterberry
Lauren Canterberry began covering New Braunfels for Community Impact Newspaper in 2019. Her reporting focuses on education, development and breaking news. Lauren is originally from South Carolina and graduated from the University of Georgia in 2017.


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