Parents can take advantage of full-day prekindergarten in Frisco ISD beginning the 2020-21 school year. Full-day pre-K comes as a result of House Bill 3, which passed in the recent Texas legislative session.
“We know it’s a result of HB 3,” FISD Special Programs Director Pam Orr said. “But it’s what’s best for kids, and so we’re excited.”
Under HB 3, school districts are required to offer full-day pre-k to 4-year-old students who meet certain requirements, such as those who cannot comprehend English or who qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program.
The law is effective for this school year, but school districts have the option to seek waivers to prepare for expansion. Before the district submits a waiver request, FISD will consider private partnerships to implement full-day pre-K and begin the program as early as fall 2020, said Melissa Ellis, FISD's assistant director of early childhood instruction.
The district collected survey data in the spring 2019 semester to see why parents did not send their child to FISD’s half-day pre-K program. Results affirm the need for full-day Pre-K, Ellis said.
“The biggest reason was that it was half day and not full day,” Ellis said. “And that presents challenges for working parents on what to do with their child for the other half of the day.”
Other reasons included parents opting into full-day private programs, an overall preference for private school, transportation issues and distance, she said.
FISD’s current half-day general education pre-K program serves more than 400 students, Ellis said.
“We do think that [full-day pre-K] will increase that number by a few hundred,” Ellis said.
An interdepartmental work group formed in the spring 2019 semester, Orr said. This group regularly meets to discuss ideas for the full-day program as well as meet with transportation, special education and special program teams.
“We want to make sure we have representation,” Ellis said. “Because it affects all those programs.”
Orr said the district will conduct another survey in September to gauge parents’ interest. This will determine additions to staff and facility expansions to accommodate for full-day pre-K.
“Our biggest goal is to maintain the fidelity and integrity of our current pre-K program,” Ellis said. “We have seen historically that our students who attend [the Early Childhood School] and go into kindergarten in Frisco are very successful.”