Leander ISD will use a community survey to help plan for the expansion of Prekindergarten from a half-day to full-day program for eligible 4-year-olds starting in the 2020–21 school year.
“We are excited to connect with our community to learn what our priorities should be in this important initiative,” Leander ISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing said. “This district has phenomenal learning happening at every level and our intent is to provide the very best educational environment for our littlest learners.”
In the most recent legislative session, the state approved House Bill 3, which included a requirement for all districts to expand half-day PreK to a full-day program for eligible students.
Several factors contribute to the eligibility for PreK, including whether the student is the child of an active-duty military member, is economically disadvantaged, has difficulty comprehending the English language and more. A complete list of eligibility requirements can be found on the district’s PreK page: www.leanderisd.org/prek.
In expanding PreK to full day, there may also be opportunities for students who don’t qualify for the free program to participate through a tuition-supported program.
“We know that 90 percent of brain growth occurs before the age of 5,” Chief Academic Officer Matt Bentz said. “Research shows that children who are educationally disadvantaged benefit from early intervention through high-quality early childhood programs. Further, research also shows that investment in early childhood education has lifelong societal, educational and economic returns.”
Leander ISD’s current half-day PreK program serves 4-year-olds daily at six elementary schools. The program is free for qualifying students and free breakfast or lunch, along with transportation, is provided.
“Due to our current PreK program being half day, the district only serves 47 percent of eligible students,” Bentz said. “The Texas legislature recognized the importance of PreK and mandated full-day PreK 4 through the passing of House Bill 3 in the recent legislative session.”
Through this survey, the district is also gauging interest in offering a half-day preschool education program for eligible 3-year-olds.
Leander ISD’s PreK program follows the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines and provides an environment and faculty focused on teaching, growing and nurturing each student in a positive and developmentally appropriate manner through a play-based curriculum.
The community survey – available in both English and Spanish – will be used to gauge broader interest and plan for the expansion of the district’s early childhood programs.