Under state requirements, to be eligible for enrollment in a free pre-K class, a child must be at least 4 years old on or before Sept. 1 of the current school year and meet at least one of the following eligibility requirements:
- unable to speak and comprehend the English Language
- is educationally disadvantaged (eligible to participate in the national school lunch program)
- is homeless
- is the child of an active duty member of the armed forces of the U.S.
- is the child of a member of the armed forces of the U.S. who was injured or killed while serving on active duty
- is or has ever been in the conservatorship of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (foster care)
- is the child of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award as a peace officer, firefighter or emergency medical first responder.
However, SISD officials announced May 13 that for the 2021-22 school year, the district would be setting aside some pre-K class spots at nearly every elementary campus for students who would not normally qualify for the program under state eligibility requirements.
"We are very excited about this opportunity to enroll some students who wouldn't normally be eligible under state requirements," SISD Superintendent Rodney Watson said in a statement. "We know there are many families who want their children in pre-K but don't meet the usual income, language or other criteria. This is a way to ensure more young learners get the great start that a quality pre-K education provides without their families having to pay any tuition fees."
The only eligibility requirement for these students will be that the student must be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1. Parents who are interested can register their student by submitting an application by July 23.
"Quality early childhood programs are expensive so this expanded pre-K program will really benefit working families, including SISD employees, who have young children turning 4 by Sept. 1," said Lupita Hinojosa, chief of innovation and equity for SISD, in a statement. "Our goal is to provide a strong academic foundation to all students and offer equitable access to all families, regardless of whether they meet the usual eligibility requirements."
According to the release, families will learn whether there is space for their student starting the week of July 6. In deciding how to award seats, the district will evaluate each application on the following criteria:
- zoned students with siblings already at the school (four points)
- zoned students (three points)
- students of teachers/staff living in the district (two points)
- students of teachers/staff not living in the district (one point)
In the event that there are more applicants that seats available, the district will hold a lottery by campus and will continue to award seats as they become available through the start of the school year.
"We have a wonderful pre-K program with caring and certified teachers who make learning fun," Hinojosa said. "We want every child to experience that so they can be excited and confident about school."
For more information about SISD's full-day, tuition-free pre-K program, click here.