Pre-Kindergarten education in the Wichita Falls Independent School District is changing. Parents will now have to pay for their students to attend a full-day Pre-K program. WFISD Leaders wanted to provide the option now that budget cuts have forced them to slash the program to the State-minimum, 3-hour, half-day.
The WFISD Board of Trustees met Tuesday for a work session to discuss the matter. Superintendent Dr. George Kazanas says it all comes down to the money – or lack thereof. "We anticipate serving about the same number of students that we do this year but because we lost our state grant for pre-k that was about $865,000 we had to go back and look at what the original requirements for Pre K were which is a 3-hour half-day program," he said.
The program is geared to handle eligible students. To be eligible, a student must come from a home that is either a foster, military or low-income home, among other criteria.
The price was set at $100/month or $25/week for eligible students. The District arrived at that number after looking at federally-subsidized daycare the students would be able to receive in Texoma. "We wanted to mirror that as well so we were certainly cognizant and sensitive to that matter and that's why we set that particular rate," said Kazanas
The District feels the benefits of a child attending Pre-K through the WFISD outweigh those of a commercial day care. "We certainly know there are very fine commercial operations in the Wichita Falls Area but, with the full-day program in having the students in full day Kindergarten they already transitioned into school the child gets used to the school environment, school procedures and they do very well in Kindergarten and have those skills with them. Our Kindergarten Teachers know exactly what they received in Pre-K curriculum and can springboard that into Kindergarten year," said Kazanas.
Many of our Newschannel6Now facebook Friends have been very vocal about this issue. To see what folks are saying, or to chime-in to the conversation, head to our page.