Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What is Pre-K 4 SA and what are its goals? 

On November 6, 2012, the City of San Antonio voted "yes" for the Pre-K 4 SA program that will provide high quality full-day Pre-K for eligible students in Fall of 2013 for 8 years. Pre-K 4 SA's goals are outlined in the image below, but primarily consist of increased academic achievement and professional development for pre-k educators.    

Who is eligible for Pre-K 4 SA?

The program's eligibility for the students will follow the State of Texas' eligibility for Pre-k. The eligibility for students consists of meeting one of the criteria listed below: 

1.     Is eligible for free or reduced lunch, or 
2.     Is unable to speak and comprehend English, or 
3.     Is homeless, or 
4.     Is the child of an active duty member of armed forces, or 
5.     Is the child of a member of the armed forces, or 
6.     Is or has been in foster care, or 

For children who do not meet these eligibility guidelines, there will be 10% of the slots reserved that will charge a sliding scale fee. To provide an objective and unbiased admission of students, all students will be selected by a lottery system. In the first year (2013-2014) the program is expected to open two centers that serves 700 students total. Each year after, the program is expected to enroll more students ending with 22,400 students by the year 8.

How is it funded? 

On November 6, 2012, the voters passed a 1/8 cent sales tax increase to fund the program during these eight years. This increase in sales tax will cap San Antonio's sales tax at 8.25%.  During the 8 years, the tax is expected to generate $31 million dollars annually, costing each household an additional $8 in taxes per year. The program will also receive federal and state funds, but those are relatively small compared to the revenue generated by the sales tax. Its funding and expense projections show the program will be sustainable.    


While the program seems like a good option for San Antonio, critics argue that the city would have been better off investing in the current pre-k programs it has, such as Head Start. Pre-K 4 SA will have an 8 year trial period that will allow the city, through its rigorous evaluations, to see if it should keep it, expand it or eliminate it. While its fate is uncertain now, one thing is for certain: when the program/tax are up for vote in 2020, the mayor will face political turbulence as eliminating the program will cause backlash from the supporters, but at the same time, keeping a program that is not meeting its goals, will also result in backlash from the critics. I look forward to following the program, and I know you will be seeing more about this program as it unravels. 

Source of Pictures: 

No comments:

Post a Comment