The Gonzales Independent School District is requesting public input and taking questions regarding its first tuition-based Pre-Kindergarted program for the 2021-2022 school year.
The district shared a survey on its Facebook page on Thursday, May 13.
"Join GISD as we prepare to offer our first tuition-based Prekindergarten Program beginning the 2021-2022 school year. Please share any questions on the ThoughtExchange survey below," the district posted.
To fill out the survey, pleas click on the link below:
The survey will close on Sunday, May 16th at 8 p.m.
A Parent Q&A meeting has also been scheduled by the district for Tuesday, May 18 via Zoom at 5:30 PM.
Here is the link to join the Zoom meeting, as well as entrance information:
Meeting ID: 921 9926 6292
On Monday, May 10, the GISD Board of Trustees voted to approve a daily tuition rate of $29 for its Pre-K program. This rate is less than half of the daily rate recommended for the 2020-2021 school year by the Texas Education Agency for the district.
As an entity funded by taxpayers, the district is only allowed to charge tuition to fund additional costs associated with providing these classes. It is against state law for the district to turn a profit on this tuition, according to GISD Chief Financial Officer Amanda Smith.
A Facebook post from the district on Friday, May 14, shared additional information regarding the move to a tuition-based program for children who do not qualify for the free program. Here is that post:
"Gonzales ISD is excited to announce the opportunity to offer a full-day Prekindergarten Program to all students beginning the 2021-2022 school year. Previously, GISD's PK Program was offered to students who met the state eligibility criteria and/or students of GISD staff members.
This will be the first year GISD has provided the opportunity for non-qualifying students to attend PK. The full-day tuition-based program will be offered beginning next school year.
The state of Texas funds PK programs to those that qualify based on state eligibility requirements, unlike grades Kindergarten through 12th grade where the state of Texas provides funding for all students to attend school free of charge. Based on the state guidelines, students who meet the following criteria are provided the opportunity to attend PK free of charge.
The criteria include:
- students 4 years of age by or on September 1 of the current year,
- unable to speak and comprehend the English language,
- students who are educationally disadvantaged,
- a child of an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States,
- or a child who has ever been in the conservatorship of the Texas DFPS (foster care) following an adversary hearing, or is a child of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award.
To provide the educational services to non-qualifying students, all districts including GISD have the opportunity to create a non-profit tuition-based program. With the Texas Education Agency (TEA) guidance, districts are provided the opportunity to develop a tuition cost that is comparable to other programs as well as to ensure the district does not financially profit from the program. The average fees of surrounding area tuition-based programs and/or childcare programs were considered. TEA recommended GISD to charge $43 per day, which is a total cost of $7299 per year.
GISD reviewed the surrounding area childcare programs, other Pre-kindergarten programs, and the consideration of the non-profit financial criteria. The GISD Board of Trustees recently approved the cost of GISD's tuition-based Prekindergarten Program for the 2021-2022 school year. Qualifying students will continue to attend GISD's PK Program free of charge. Non-qualifying students will have the opportunity to register to attend the tuition-based program with a fee of $29 per day, which is a total cost of $4800 per year for those that choose to participate.
Offering a PK program to all students has been a goal of GISD. Now, children of PK age have the opportunity to begin their educational journey as an Apache beginning the 2021-2022 school year."