Plano ISD to test full-day Pre-K program

- The Plano Independent School District is launching a pilot program to offer full-day Pre-K to children who qualify. But the idea is so popular there may not be enough spots for everyone to get in.

Lisa Nguyen is one of many parents hoping to get her son into the program. She showed up to register him around 10 a.m., but by then the parking lot was already full and the line was out the door.

The district only has the space for 270 students. Getting there an hour after opening was almost too late for Nguyen’s son.

“Everyone who got a purple slip was allowed to stay. Everyone that did not was told to come back at 1 p.m.,” she said.

Plano has offered a three-hour Pre-K program for years, but that’s tough for working moms like Nguyen. Others are just anxious to register so their kids get a jump on learning. Experts say 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the age of 5.

“The teacher told me the difference between kids here, they have more knowledge than the other kids,” said Manar Njhajr, a mother in the district.

Plano also has a lot of families from other countries that have moved to the area because of the thriving tech industry. Pre-K students with limited English abilities will receive English as a second language services.

“We moved from another country, India, and she is fluent in Hindi. That’s our native language,” said Asif Iqbal, who moved to Plano about a year and a half ago for a job with Intel. “She’s happy and excited to come.”

But students can only qualify for the full-day program based on household income. For example, a family of four earning less than $31,500 a year receives first priority and a family earning less than $44,800 receives second priority.

Part of the reason for the pilot program is to find out how much demand there is for full-day Pre-K. The spots will be given to people who qualify on a first-come, first-serve basis.

If voters approve a nearly $500 million bond package in May the district could also build another early childhood school.

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