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Community, Mayor Julian Castro
Pre-K 4 SA: campaign office answers students’ questions
November 5, 2012

Pre-K 4 SA: campaign office answers students’ questions

Mayor Julián Castro answers questions about Pre-K 4 SA on Oct. 17 in Room 204 of Main Campus Building. The mayor agreed to answer additional questions posed by students. Questions were submitted to The Mesquite by students in the School of Education, routed to the mayor’s Pre-K 4 SA campaign office, and are listed below for the benefit of all students. Photo by Joe Camacho.

 

Editor’s Note: On Oct. 17, Mayor Julian Castro provided an overview of the Pre-K 4 SA initiative for students attending Texas A&M-San Antonio. While many students had their questions answered, not all students were able to attend the evening forum. To broaden awareness and help each student make an  informed vote on Election Day, The Mesquite partnered with professors and students in the School of Education to send an additional list of questions to the mayor’s Pre-K 4 SA campaign office. The Mesquite thanks Professors Debbie Vera, Melissa M. Jozwiak and students enrolled in EDED: 4301, Curriculum Across the Disciplines; EDEC 3349:  Academics, Creativity and Play; EDEC 3303: Child Development for submitting dozens of questions, four of which are answered below.

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Tomorrow, San Antonio voters will be asked to make an investment in the children — and the future — of San Antonio. The program will partner with area school districts to provide full-day Pre-K to more than 20,000 children who are currently underserved. The program will be free for qualified students and open to all San Antonio children of any income level on a tuition basis. The program would be funded by a 1/8-cent increase in the sales tax, which would cost the average San Antonio family just $7.81 per year.

Research shows that children who attend high quality Pre-K programs do better in school from their first day of kindergarten through their college years. They learn to read faster, are less likely to fall behind their classmates and more likely to graduate and attend college. This translates into success later in life through better jobs, higher earnings, less government assistance and lower crime rates.

Approximately 5,700 four-year-olds in San Antonio are not currently in full-day Pre-K. Pre-K 4 SA will partner with school districts to provide full-day programs, as well provide high quality training for Pre-K through 3rd teachers at school districts across the city. The program would also require significant parent involvement through parent leadership classes; parent education classes; fatherhood initiatives; parent advisory councils; and family case management that may include home visits and parent contracts with certain requirements.

Pre-K 4 SA will be accountable to a citizen’s oversight board and will be subject to independent annual financial audits. Voters will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to continue the program based on at least five years worth of results.

Please visit our website, prek4sa.com, like us on Facebook and above all else, please vote yes on November 6 and invest in our kids.

How much do I need to pay?  What is the income scale?

Children who meet the state eligibility guidelines (low income, foster children, children of military personnel, homeless children, students learning English as a second language) will be able to attend for free. Low income is defined as 185% of poverty or an annual income of $42,643 per year for a family of four. Students who do not meet these guidelines but wish to enroll in a high quality, full-day Pre-K program will be able to pay a sliding scale tuition. Below is a draft tuition scale that the City is considering. A family that earns $100,000 per year would pay approximately $444 per month, which is significantly less expensive than many current private full-day programs.

Family Size

Family of 4

185% of Poverty Level

$42,643

Adjusted Gross Income

Year

Month

Week

$500,000

$9,290

$1,032

$258

$250,000

$9,290

$1,032

$258

$100,000

$4,000

$444

$111

$90,000

$3,600

$400

$100

$80,000

$3,200

$356

$89

$70,000

$2,800

$311

$78

$60,000

$2,400

$267

$67

$50,000

$2,000

$222

$56

$42,643

$0

$0

$0

$40,000

$0

$0

$0

$30,000 and under

$0

$0

$0

 

Why not make the initiative available to everyone?  

The program is available to all San Antonio children. In fact, it is the first public Pre-K program to be open to all children regardless of income level. Those who meet the state eligibility guidelines (low income, foster children, children of military personnel, homeless children, students learning English as a second language) will be able to attend for free. Students who do not meet these guidelines but wish to enroll in a high quality, full-day Pre-K program will be able to pay a sliding scale tuition, as addressed in the question above.

What is the difference between the Pre-K 4SA program and the current Head Start programs offered?

A few things regarding how the Pre-K 4 SA initiative and Head Start are different:

  1. In our region, there are 21,000 three- and four-year –olds eligible for Head Start.  Right now, slightly over 7,000 of those children are in Head Start.  There is definitely a higher need than what the city gets funding to serve.
  2. The Pre-K 4 SA initiative will be using the state’s eligibility requirements to provide free prekindergarten for four-year-olds.  Head Start’s income requirement is 100% of the federal poverty level (for a family of four that is $23,050); the state’s prekindergarten guidelines go up to 185% of the federal poverty level (for a family of four that is around $43,000).  The state also allows children that are homeless, is or was in foster care, military status and English as a second language to be eligible for prekindergarten.  The Head Start criteria are more limiting so the Pre-K 4 SA initiative will be able to serve a wider group of students.
  3. The Pre-K 4 SA initiative also recognizes that the city has a lot of working middle-class families that make too much to qualify for free pre-kindergarten but not enough to have discretionary income that would allow them to afford high-quality prekindergarten. Therefore, the centers will reserve slots for families that are not eligible for free prekindergarten and will develop an affordable tuition based on a sliding scale.  This is unique to the city and as the lead contact for the initiative for the city, this has gotten the most “inquiries” about so I think it is definitely addressing a need that is in San Antonio right now.

Head Start also does not extend beyond the three- and four-year-old classrooms.  Pre-K 4 SA will work to develop teacher capacity and support in kindergarten through third grade.  This will help retain student achievement.

How are you going to handle attendance issues and involvement of parents? 

The Pre-K 4 SA initiative is placing high priority on parental involvement at the centers. We will meet with each family, discuss the center’s philosophy and enter into an agreement with the family where we will outline our expectations of them reading to their child every night, good attendance, participating in all school activities.  We recognize that sometimes families need extra assistance so we will have staff that will help families. he centers will enter into a contract and meet one-on-one with parents to discuss the center’s expectations for students, families, teachers and all staff at the centers.

The center will also provide parental leadership classes, work with involving dads in the child’s education and providing support to those parents who need some “extra” help in supporting their child’s educational experience at the center.  We expect parents to meet us at least half-way and the center staff will work with them to make sure that their child is successful.

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Vote tomorrow. Make a difference.  

 

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