Cy-Fair ISD launches new partnership to expand pre-K through $450,000 grant

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Cy-Fair ISD launched a partnership with a Copperfield-area location of Kids R Kids day care center on Oct. 27 to educate 3- and 4-year-olds with district curriculum. The district funded the partnership through a $450,000 grant awarded in January to help close the achievement gap for pre-K students.

The grant, jointly offered by the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission, provides funding for the planning and implementation of programming for children at eligible private child care providers. Eligibility is determined by the Texas Rising Star rating system, which is administered by TWC.

Linda Macias, CFISD’s associate superintendent for curriculum, instruction and accountability, said the district has been looking for ways to get more involved with early childhood education in Cy-Fair for years.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve had conversations about opportunities to prepare our economically disadvantaged students for pre-K before they even enter our schools, helping close that gap—specifically the vocabulary gap—before they come to us,” Macias said.

Macias said the district contacted each of the four day care providers in the Cy-Fair area that were eligible for the partnership. The TRS quality rating system measures the following categories: director and staff qualifications and training; caregiver-child interactions; curriculum; nutrition and indoor/outdoor activities; and parent involvement and education.

Three centers decided they did not have enough economically disadvantaged children for the program, but Kids R Kids 8 will provide about 60 3- and 4-year-olds CFISD curriculum.

Eligible students will benefit from full-day pre-K, and starting next year, 4-year-olds will attend their future CFISD schools for half of the day and Kids R Kids 8 for the other half. There, students can be placed with the teacher who best fits their needs, Macias said.

The district worked with the day care to hire a certified teacher to work at Kids R Kids as well as provide curriculum, professional development and materials, Macias said. CFISD developed new curriculum for the 3-year-old class and is implementing curriculum it uses in its pre-K programming in the 4-year-old classroom. Literacy is a focus of the program, featuring concepts of letters, sounds, reading and writing.

“The state didn’t really give us much guidance with how to manage the program because it’s really more of an innovative program,” Macias said. “They wanted us to design the program, implement it, and then they want to create a model that they can then duplicate throughout the state.”

In the first year, the grant covers the teacher’s salary. In the following years, eligible children will contribute to the district’s average daily attendance—a number that determines how much state funding the district receives.

Superintendent Mark Henry said the district implements several programs to prevent students from falling behind.

“Certainly, the focus of school districts for students is intervention, but what we’ve really tried to focus on the last four or five years is prevention so that as much intervention is not required,” Henry said. “We’re not just talking about intervening once people are behind, we’re trying to make sure they’re on level or ahead of the game.”

Macias said she believes the partnership will give families increased access to quality pre-K education with resources aligned to district standards. The program will also draw more families to Kids R Kids 8 and any day cares that choose to participate in the future, she said.

Kids R Kids 8 Director Jennifer Casares said the new partnership will enhance the curriculum already in place, which includes alphabet, art, construction, numbers, reading, science/sensory and writing.

“The kids are going to be extremely ready for kindergarten,” Casares said. “They’re going to know the sight words, and no one’s going to be left behind.”

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Danica Smithwick

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She covers public education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development, nonprofits and more in the Cy-Fair community.

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