Officials from Lewisville ISD know the district will likely need the three-year waiver for full-day pre-kindergarten the state is offering.
During a work session Monday, Deputy Superintendent Lori Rapp said LISD has completed the necessary steps in securing that waiver from the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
House Bill 3, the education funding bill that the Texas Legislature passed in 2019, includes funding under the Early Childhood Allotment. Within that is money for full-day pre-K for eligible 4-year-olds.
Districts can apply for one-, two- or three-year waivers if they have to build more space or issue bonds to construct more space to house full-day pre-K and if the district would serve fewer qualifying 4-year-olds in pre-K. The district would have to solicit partnerships to provide more space.
The district completed the solicitation process but decided not to enter into a partnership.
Rapp said there will be an item on Monday’s board meeting agenda for a three-year waiver.
“That would give us time to see the demand for full-day pre-K and really have time to see how much space is needed,” Rapp said.
Officials said things will really start moving next year, as the district expects to have 39 full-day pre-K classrooms available.
“We are taking a substantial bite out of the elephant this next year,” Superintendent Kevin Rogers said. “Our plan is to hire 27 new pre-K teachers – 16 regular pre-K and 11 early childhood/special education teachers. And with those 27, that also requires 27 aides. So I think that’s a good first bite. But certainly we’re going to need the three-year waiver to get to where we need to.”
It’s projected there will be 42 half-day classes, and the district isn’t going to immediately change over the half-day classes to full-day, which is why the waiver is necessary.
Officials said the funding for the program will be a challenge as it’s estimated the program once up and running will cost $7 million, plus special education staffing costs.
Rogers said LISD received $5 million in the Early Education Allotment as part of HB 3, but he said that’s not all earmarked for pre-K.
“I would remind folks that while our legislators stand up and talk about how they funded full-day pre-K, we only get half-day ADA (average daily attendance funding), even once they do go to school full day,” Rogers said.
Rogers said the 27 teachers and aides will cost between $2.5 million and $2.6 million.
Chief Financial Officer Mike Ball said the Early Childhood Allotment has more to do with funding kindergarten through third-grade than pre-K.
“I think it would be accurate to say the funding has not been provided for the full-day program,” Ball said. “And all the rest of the funding is co-mingled in a basket of funds.”