Dallas ISD will move forward with private pre-k partnerships

A new program in the Dallas Independent School District could eventually lead to an expanded pre-kindergarten program. The district is carefully stepping into it.

After a heated debate, Dallas ISD’s board of trustees approved a plan to partner with private organizations for its pre-k program. The vote came just before 1 a.m. Friday.

Pre-k is an important part of setting kids up for success but it is often costly for school districts. A new state law allows districts to go get more money per student in exchange for giving 90 percent of that money to private organizations.

Dallas ISD already works with pre-k providers. Now some of them will become in-district charter schools.

The change opens up more state dollars for a savings of about $900 per student.

However, opponents like Trustee Audrey Pinkerton worry the district will lose some control over the schools.

“Why would we turn over management and operations of our schools to outside operators, who have not proven they could do a better job than DISD?” Pinkerton asked.

“There are still thousands of children that need a high-quality pre-k option and currently can’t access one in DISD. To tonight’s vote is directly tied to our ability to continue growing what has been a wildly popular set of partnerships,” said Trustee Miguel Solis, who supports the plan.

The move will not open up more pre-k spots for children this upcoming school year but district officials said they hope the model will lead to additional partnerships that can serve more students later.