The Pre-K 4 SA program is a high quality early childhood program is funded by 1/8₵ sales tax that was approved by the voters in November 2012.
The Pre-K 4 SA business model includes:
1. Four education center facilities serving 500 students each at full capacity with full day Pre-K instruction.
2. Competitive grant awards to local independent school districts and other education providers to educate 1,700 children annually beginning in 2016.
3. Professional development for Pre-K through 3rd grade educators.
Pre-K 4 SA is governed by an eleven-member board of directors appointed the by City Council. Our business model is one of partnering with seven independent school districts where we receive their four-year olds and state funding and in return we educate the students and provide their educators with professional development. The seven partnering school districts account for over 90% of all four-year old pre-k students in our area.
Pre-K 4 SA places a strong emphasis on family engagement in early education. Each Pre-K 4 SA education center has a staffed family resource center that provides families access to a wide range of resources including educational workshops, family oriented events, and individual family counseling.
Another important feature of our program includes a high quality after school enrichment program from 3:00pm to 6:00pm for working parents.
Finally our program offers free bus service through student bus depots strategically located throughout the city.
To gauge success in development and implementation of the program, Pre-K 4 SA has secured an eight-year agreement with Rutgers university’s Edvance research center to conduct an independent evaluation of our program on an annual basis. I will highlight their first year assessments shortly.
Student performance from year 1 (august 2013 to may 2014)
Pre-K 4 SA began in august 2013 with two education centers each serving 350 students for a total of 700 students. Pre-K 4 SA’s independent evaluator (Edvance) found that the students entering Pre-K 4 SA fell below the national standard for growth levels in cognitive, literacy, math, oral language, physical, and socio-emotional behavioral skills for their age.
However, after a year one evaluation of our program, not only did our students get up to speed, they passed a national peer group.
The year 1 evaluation found that students exceeded a nationally sample of students in cognitive, literacy, and math skills, and met the standard in oral language, physical skills, and socio-emotional behavior.
Last week on February 2, Pre-K 4 SA began accepting applications for the new school year that will begin this august. The early application period will close on April 5 and on April 8 1,700 students will be selected by a lottery, we will also maintain a wait list.
As of February 12, the program had received over 1,000 student applications.
We expect to service 80% of students free of charge and 20% through sliding scale tuition payments this coming year.
Our learning environment at our four education centers are appropriate, and while it may appear our students are having fun, our students are focused on learning from our high quality early childhood curriculum.
Curriculum at the Pre-K 4 SA centers
Let me give you some examples of the curriculum that our students learned last month in three areas, math, science, and literacy.
Math focus: student learned counting, geometry, measurement, and patterns. Students created shapes, worked to recognize heights and lengths of people and objects, and sorted similar objects and patterns.
Science focus: students focused on physical science and the motion of objects and sources of energy. They learned about the characteristics of organisms, and life cycles. Students compared and discussed earth materials and their properties.
Literacy focus: students engaged in pre-reading and reading related activities; they combined syllables into words, and recognized letter sounds.
Upcoming council actions
There are two upcoming actions that city council will address:
According to the Pre-K 4 SA bylaws, the Pre-K board adopts the budget and the city council approves the board adopted budget. The current fiscal year budget is $32 million. The fiscal year for the program begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 each year. The board will consider adopting the new fiscal year budget in April and city council will consider approving the budget in may.
The Pre-K board is appointed by city council and serve staggered two-year terms. As a result odd numbered city council district positions and the Pre-K 4 SA board chair appointments will be considered by city council this year in april. The city council governance committee will select appointments in march, and city council will approve the appointments in April.
The Pre-k 4 SA program has had many successes in its early years. Pre-K 4 SA looks forward to continue providing a high quality early childhood learning program for the children of San Antonio.