Full-day pre-K to be ‘game-changer’ for Fort Bend ISD if state passes House Bill 3

Image description
Full-day pre-K to be ‘game-changer’ for Fort Bend ISD if state passes House Bill 3
Updated May 6: The Texas Senate approved House Bill 3 which will fund full-day pre-K for low-income students. The bill will now go in front of Gov. Greg Abbott for possible passage.

 More 4-year-old students within Fort Bend ISD could get their own full-day prekindergarten class if the 86th Texas Legislature passes House Bill 3.

FBISD has 18 elementary campuses offering morning or afternoon half-day prekindergarten sessions to students who meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being enrolled in free or reduced lunch.

It also offers two full-day programs at Ridgemont and Hunters Glen elementary schools through a collaboration with charter school BakerRipley Head Start, according to the district.

FBISD Chief Financial Officer Steven Bassett shared how the bill, which makes $9 billion in school finance policy changes, would affect the district at a Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce event March 8.

“This is a game-changer,” Bassett said.

School finance reform was declared an “emergency item” by Gov. Greg Abbott for this legislative session. The Texas House of Representatives passed HB 3 on April 4, and it will now make its way through the same process in the Senate.

State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, who co-authored HB 3 and has been advocating for full-day pre-K since being elected to the House in 2011, said this legislation is a step in the right direction.

“They will have greater skills and be more prepared for kindergarten,” Reynolds said. “It will also benefit children who can’t participate in a half-day program because their parents aren’t able to pick them up.”

Though the bill’s future is still developing, Bassett discussed several unknowns associated with accommodating more students in pre-K.

Bassett said 40% of pre-K classes in the district are half day. However, there are not enough classrooms in those 20 schools to offer more than one class at a time, he said.

“We have plenty of classrooms, but they are not all in one place, so some work needs to be done,” Bassett said.

That means while classes would be offered at a child’s zoned school, they may be taken to another school where there are classrooms, he said.

In addition, if all classes were full day, Bassett said the district would need to hire between 50 and 200 teachers and aides to meet the demand. He said if the bill is passed, the district would likely be able to fill those jobs in time for the 2019-20 school year to begin.

Another unknown is the cost. A solution designates a portion of HB 3 to help provide funding for the other half of the day by establishing an early reading program that will fund full-day, high-quality prekindergarten for low-income students, according to the bill.

However, the district expects the cost of full-day pre-K to exceed the amount of new revenue, Bassett said. If HB 3 passes as drafted, FBISD would gain $5.3 million in new funding for early childhood literacy, but the overall additional cost would depend on enrollment, Bassett said.

Despite the unknowns, state and district education data shows attendance in pre-K is likely to provide positive outcomes for students.

A 2017 Texas Education Agency study that followed prekindergarten students over a 15-year period found that children who attended prekindergarten classes were 16% more likely to demonstrate skills showing kindergarten readiness.

In FBISD, of the 1,212 kindergartners enrolled in 2017-18 who attended a public pre-K program, 22.1% were assessed as kindergarten ready, according to TEA data.

In addition, 86% of pre-K students enrolled at a FBISD school in 2017-18 showed emergent literacy reading skills at the end of the year compared with 46% at the beginning, according to TEA data. Meanwhile, 43% of students were proficient in language and communication skills, and mathematics proficiency grew two percentage points to 86%.

“Establishing this program will help students become more independent learners and enter kindergarten at grade level,” Reynolds said. “It will be setting the right foundation.”

By Christine Hall

Christine Hall joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2018, and covers Missouri City and Fort Bend ISD. She previously reported on health care innovation for the Texas Medical Center, was a freelancer, and held various news roles at the Houston Business Journal.


The vote to terminate Snipes' employment happened at a Feb. 24 special City Council meeting. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Missouri City City Council votes to fire City Manager Anthony Snipes

The council voted 4-3 to terminate Snipes' employment.

Three Democrats and three Republicans are competing for votes to ultimately become Fort Bend County sheriff.
3 Democrats, 3 Republicans vie to be Fort Bend County's next sheriff

Troy Nehls, who announced he would be running for U.S. Congress District 22 in December, made it known last summer he would not be seeking re-election for Fort Bend County sheriff in 2020.

Crews at Hwy. 6 and Town Center Boulevard are preparing to pour concrete for the new outermost, southbound lane. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hwy. 6 road-widening project in Sugar Land experiences delays

The delays stem from underground utility conflicts that were discovered during excavation.

Texas Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, announced two adult prisons in the state will close in 2020. (Courtesy Pexels)
Jester I Unit, an adult prison in Richmond, will close in 2020

The prison closure is due to declining inmate populations statewide.

Sugar Land lost out on $3.7M as a result of HB 1631 banning red-light cameras, audit shows

As a result of Texas' 86th legislative session, House Bill 1631 was signed into law, banning the use of red-light cameras in the state.

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Get to know the Democrats running for U.S. Congress District 22 in the March 3 primary election

Four candidates are vying to be the lone Democrat in the U.S. Congress District 22 race in November. First, they must face off in the March 3 primaries. Get to know each candidate here.

Cheetos Cheese Pickles from Biggy's (Courtesy Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo)
Cheetos cheese pickles, mac and cheese eggrolls, deep-fried cheesecake: 93 food spots to try during the 2020 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

From tried and true to something new, the food options at this year's Rodeo include classic staples and crazy concoctions.

Veritas Steak and Seafood closes after more than a decade in Sugar Land

Mario and Maggie Rios opened the fine dining restaurant in 2008.

Brandani's Restaurant & Wine Bar to celebrate 5-year anniversary in Missouri City

As of March 3, the restaurant will have been in Missouri City Township Square for five years.

Fifteen Republicans are vying to be the lone candidate competing against one Democrat on the ballot in November. First, they must face off in the March 3 primaries.
Q&A: Get to know the Republicans running for U.S. Congress District 22 in the March 3 primary election

Fifteen candidates are vying to be the lone Republican in the U.S. Congress District 22 race in November. First, they must face off in the March 3 primaries. Get to know each candidate here.

Sugar Land City Hall (Beth Marshall/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sugar Land residents to see charter amendments, council candidates on May ballot

In this year’s May 2 election, the seats for Sugar Land mayor and at-large positions 1 and 2 will be on the ballot. Voters will also see several charter amendment items on the ballot.

YogaSix coming to Riverstone in Sugar Land this spring

The yoga studio offers classes for all skill levels.

Back to top