ARLINGTON, Texas - The Arlington Independent School District is expanding its pre-kindergarten program hoping to get children off to a solid start with their educations.
Beginning in the fall, all 4-year-olds in the district will be eligible for pre-k, regardless of family income.
"It’s an exciting day for Arlington ISD because we’re announcing that for the fall, we will have free, full-day pre-k for all 4-year-olds," said Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos.
While state law now requires school districts to make pre-k education accessible to certain qualified children, Arlington’s program, beginning this fall, will be offered to all students at no cost to parents.
The program will have an emphasis on STEM education. Every pre-k learner will get exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math.
"It’s a natural part of development because it’s the discovery, it’s the excitement, it’s the experimentation. And when young people, students in particular, begin that process in pre-k then they’re set up for a long journey in success in academics," the superintendent said. "We know that STEM education helps the foundation of our youngest learners, so they can be successful in their future."
Funding will come from within the district. Cavazos said Arlington ISD gets money from the state for students who meet statewide eligibility requirements. It won’t get paid for those students who don’t qualify.
"It’s a local investment from our local budget to make sure that we serve all students," he said. "We know that that investment benefits us not only today because of pre-k but throughout their whole experience with Arlington ISD."
Marisela Sierra encourages parents to take full advantage.
"My son, Carmelo Sierra, will be part of the very first class," she said.
She credits pre-k with getting her two daughters on the right educational track. A speech pathologist within the district helped one of them overcome a delay with her speech.
"She told me, ‘Nothing is wrong with your daughter. Give me three months and your daughter will be speaking,’ and that is exactly what happened," Sierra said.
The program will be offered at all elementary schools. Registration begins on April 1.
For more information and to register, visit www.aisd.net/district-news/free-pre-k-stem/.