PISD gearing up for full day Pre-K in fall

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Pearland ISD will apply for an exemption for the current school year to provide a full-day pre-K as mandated by the state, the board decided this month.

Instead, the district sought proposals from a private pre-K provider for the first half of 2020, but did not select one.

“We do not believe that (private program) could absorb these students or provide the level of education that the state is requiring,” Superintendent John Kelly told the board at its regular meeting. “My recommendation is to not go down that avenue.”

“We’re gearing up to be ready to (provide full day Pre-K) in the fall,” Kelly said.

A public hearing on the matter drew no speakers during the Dec. 17 meeting.

Part of an overhaul of the state’s school finance system, Texas now provides additional funding plus a requirement for full-day Pre-K for qualifying students. Requirements include inability to speak English, eligibility for the free lunch program, homelessness or having been in protective services custody. Children of active service members or first responders who were killed or injured are also eligible.

Pearland ISD currently provides a half-day pre-K program

The board at that meeting also approved the purchase of five portable buildings to help accommodate the new full day program.

“We want to make it clear that we would not be putting pre-K students in those classrooms, but we will be moving older grade levels,” Kelly said.

The cost of the buildings is just over $343,000, excluding decks or other equipment. Funds will come from the district’s general fund, the board decided after some discussion.

“That’s just technical as to which line item, which bucket of money it comes out of,” Trustee Charles Gooden said.

Portable buildings, or temporary buildings, are found in just about every school district, particularly for growing districts. Pearland ISD has buildings that have remained in place for more than 20 years, staff said.

“We are prepared for as many as 500 pre-K students,” Kelly said. “Whether we get that many or not, hard to say. One of the chief goals of our new early childhood director is going to be to try to get a better handle —  it’s very difficult to predict pre-K enrollment. We’ll be doing that over the next few months.”

Trustees heard a report from the district’s Maintenance Director Larry Berger and discussed the district’s capital improvement plan.

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