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Austin Schools Begin Pre-K Enrollment, Roll-Out Pilot Programs for 3-Year-Olds

Robert W. Hart
Austin parents can now enroll 4-year-olds in pre-K classes if they are English Language Learners, qualify for reduced or free lunch or are homeless. The district is also testing a pilot program for 3-year-olds.

Today, parents can begin enrolling their 4-year-olds in pre-K classes in the Austin Independent School District, but today also marks the districts roll-out of a pilot program to enroll qualified 3-year-olds in half-day pre-K classes.

Not all four-year olds in Austin qualify for free pre-K. They must be English Language Learners, qualify for free or reduced lunch, or homeless, among other qualifications.

Those who don’t qualify can enroll, but must pay tuition—a little more than 500 dollars a month. AISD Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz says pre-K allows the district to start educating student, and parents, early.  

“We provide instruction to students about reading, literacy, math instruction and they begin to socialize with other youngsters,” says Cruz. “But we also provide parent programs so we’ll work with parents on types of supports and needs they have in working with their children.”

This year, the school district will also provide half-day pre-K for 3-year-olds at Oak Springs and Zavala elementary schools. Cruz says it’s unclear if the district will expand the program for 3-year-olds yet.

“We’re going to see how it goes. We’re going to look at enrollment and work we’re doing this year. And if it goes well we may continue to build it out,” he says.

The district is also opening a pre-K center at the old Allan Elementary campus in East Austin for three and four year olds. It’s hoping to partner with a non-profit. The AISD board will vote on that partnership later this month.

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