Irving ISD full-day Pre-K to offer more early childhood education opportunities

Photo: Families enjoy educational activities at an informational fair. /Courtesy Photo

Starting with the 2016-2017 school year, Irving ISD will offer full-day, tuition-based Pre-K at three locations around the district in the hope of laying the groundwork for even more successful young students.

This additional option, which will be added to the already offered free half-day Pre-K, will cost $100 per week.

“Irving ISD has a number of programs designed to help students reach their maximum potential,” said Superintendent Jose L. Parra in a press release. “A full-day prekindergarten program is one more opportunity we have to prepare students for their future. Our full-day Pre-K classes will give students a strong foundation for reading, writing and problem solving. When students step out of Pre-K in the spring, they are prepared for the academic and social expectations of school.”

According to the Community Council of Greater Dallas, research shows that children who attend Pre-K are more likely to excel early, graduate from high school and even be more successful in life.

To be eligible for the full-day program, the child’s parent/guardian must live in the Irving ISD, and the child must be 4 years old by September 1.

According to the district, a full-day Pre-K rigorous curriculum will prepare students for kindergarten and beyond. The teachers are certified and focused on the academic, social and emotional needs of 4-year-olds.

The instruction will be all day, and will be offered at Clifton, Kinkeade and Pierce Early Childhood Schools. The Amadi Guess Foundation will provide a free after-school program for the students. Families will be responsible for transportation.

Full-day Pre-K will be offered only in English and enrollment is first come, first served. Schools do need to meet a minimum of 44 students enrolled per campus in order to operate. A total of 132 students will be permitted into the program this year, according to Adam Grinage, associate superintendent of academic services.

Each facility will have two classes, a teacher and a teaching assistant. The program will be self-funded through tuition.

Grinage is not worried about having to turn applicants away.

“I don’t think that we’ll have to turn away people just based off the interest that has been expressed so far,” Grinage said. “Right now we’re about halfway to the maximum point.

“Really this is just about offering more options for our community. That’s really what the driver is.”

Over the years, some parents have asked the district for full-day Pre-K, but the state now does not fund a full day program. Currently, the state supports half day Pre-K for families who might not have the opportunities that other young children have.

And what of the children who come from families that can’t afford full-day Pre-K? Will they be behind the others? Grinage thinks not.

“I would say yes, except for the fact that we have half-day Pre-K programs for those, and the vast majority of those are economically disadvantaged,” Grinage said. “They actually have a leg up, because they have been able to go to school at no cost. We expect to even out the playing field more so than we have been able to in the past.”

Ultimately, the curriculum for full-day Pre-K will be the same as that for the half-day program, but the longer days will also include an enrichment period where children will have arts and crafts and physical activities.

The district is exploring expanding a partnership with the YMCA and its after-school program to provide half-day Pre-K children with enrichment activities.

Pre-enrollment is open now and forms are available online at Official enrollment starts on April 4. A $35 registration fee is due at that time.