So remember how I went to drop off Tiny’s Pre-K enrollment packet and was met with total confusion? And then remember how, still confused about how Pre-K in DISD works for sure, we opted for a new plan involving a private Pre-K? You do?
Good, because now we’re at the same point in the saga of “Dear Lord I Just Want To Send My Kid To School Next Year.”
Tuesday, I got a phone call from our feeder elementary – the same one that was confused about why we dropped off a packet in the first place. They wanted up-to-date proof of income. “You do know that we do not qualify based on income or language, right?” I gently questioned the registrar. She responded that she did, but she needed the form so she could submit Tiny’s packet so he could “be in line.”
So I ran by yesterday to drop off new pay stubs, signed a form, and left. That evening, late, I came across a comment on one of my blog posts that pointed to the district’s new Pre-K enrollment webpage, in the FAQs:
If my family doesn’t meet the qualifications for free Pre-K, can I pay for my child to attend?
No, Dallas ISD does not offer tuition based Pre-K.
Cue the needle scratching on the record. What? I mean, I did my homework. I emailed someone in the district a year ago. I emailed the principal. I couldn’t find anything new to disabuse me of the well-documented notion that pre-k spots that were open could be filled by tuition-paying families, until now.
So I was confused. And since I was confused, I called Alan Cohen, executive director of Early Childhood and Community Partnerships, the department tasked with overseeing pre-K in Dallas public schools, to clear things up.
And in short, “We are not accepting tuition,” he said. “Our focus right now is on eligible children.”
Basically, the district wants to make sure there are spots available for qualifying children throughout the year. This is smart, because despite a massive campaign to provide information to potential qualifying families, everything from language barriers, economic issues that require moving, or even foster care situations could mean that a student could begin attending pre-K even in the middle of the school year.
As I’ve said before, the need for pre-K for qualifying students in DISD is astounding. I’m not at all upset that Tiny can’t go (I wish he could, though), because we are blessed to have the means to send him to private Pre-K next year. But for those who don’t have the means for that, pre-K is a wonderful way to make sure that every child entering kindergarten is operating from the same knowledge base.
In the next few days, I’ll be talking more about the upcoming school board election (next Thursday is the last day to register to vote if you want to vote in the May elections, AND YOU WANT TO VOTE IN THE MAY ELECTIONS), and the candidates running. I’ll also be talking about an amazing panel discussion I attended that was moderated by Bill McKenzie.