The 86th Texas Legislature’s major school finance reform bill, House Bill 3, requires school districts currently offering half-day pre-K programming to begin offering full-day programs starting in the 2019-20 school year.
While districts that cannot yet make this transition due to capacity issues can apply for a waiver, Cy-Fair ISD officials said they will be ready to start the full-day program as soon as January 2020. Linda Macias—associate superintendent of curriculum, instruction and accountability—presented the administration’s plan at an Aug. 8 board of trustees work session.
“We’ve met with the different departments, we’ve talked about what needs to happen, we’ve already started putting some things in place,” she said. “We will be ready in January to implement full-day pre-K.”
The district already offers half-day pre-K at 50 campuses throughout the district where there are enough eligible students to offer the program. By state law, students must be 4 years old by Sept. 1 and be either economically disadvantaged, an English language learner, homeless, part of a military family or in the foster care system to be eligible.
CFISD plans to hire and train 80 additional pre-K teachers and 80 paraeducators to accommodate growth. The transition period will also entail relocating portable buildings and taking advantage of space on campuses that have extra capacity.
Full-day pilot programs were already in place at Francone and Hoover elementary schools, giving CFISD a model to replicate curriculum, transportation plans and food service at other campuses starting in January, Macias said.
The pre-K program could actually expand with this change. Macias said when elementary school principals surveyed eligible families that did not enroll their child, many said it was because the half-day program did not work for them.
“We believe that the best place to educate our prekindergarten students is right here with us in our Cy-Fair ISD classrooms,” she said.